Immoral morass

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Immoral morass

A deputy director-level civil servant hoarded 1.5 billion won ($1.48 million) of company money to spend on gambling and buying stocks. Two top-level civil servants received money from an unregistered company and went on trips to Southeast Asia and indulged in prostitution and played golf.

The head of a labor union repeatedly requested unfounded rebates from another company as well as fabricating the test scores of a new employee. All these instances happened among the 21 public companies that were investigated by prosecutors. It is a wonder how these unscrupulous public companies are still standing.

There are also cases of moral laxity in the scale of the whole company. The Korea National Oil Corporation lost 600 billion won failing to control the amount of its oil reserves but poured over 43.4 billion won into the company’s internal welfare costs.

And as Korea Gas Corporation’s stocks fell, it gave 22.7 billion to employees who own company stock. Korea Coal Corporation lent to a company on the verge of bankruptcy, 167 billion won, but never got the money back. As this example shows, public companies have been spending citizens’ money in this careless way.

Furthermore, employees in these public companies get above-standard treatment to say the least. The average yearly salary of employees at the Korea Securities Depository is 100 million won. The number of public companies with an average of 70 million won or more is 30. For reference, Samsung Electronics’ average salary per year ? the company is Korea’s No. 1 firm in terms of net profit ? is 60 million won. Lee Myung-bak’s administration said that they will reform the public company structure. However, it seems as soon as they came into power, their stance changed. They are carrying out the very system they dismissed. Among eight of the recently appointed public company heads, six are connected to Lee Myung-bak’s line of being a Korea University graduate, attending Somang Church and are from the Yeongnam, or southeast, region of Seoul.

Now they are even looking at appointing those related to the present administration as auditors for public companies. At this point, the Board of Audit and Inspection’s statement saying that “because internal auditing is not done properly, the morality of public companies is in crisis,” seems futile. Public companies which are full of corruption are the same as enemies to the public. Without hashing out these irrationalities, it is impossible to improve the economy.

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