Hypocrisy at the NGOsThe Board of Audit and Inspection has disclosed serious cases of corruption among some nongovernmental organizations.
In the board’s recent investigation into 543 private organizations that receive government subsidies of more than 80 million won ($67,900) a year, some 140 groups were found to have either embezzled or misused public funds worth 50 billion won.
That’s one out of four NGOs that was reckless in its use of taxpayer money.
We don’t want to imagine what the results would be if the investigation had extended to smaller organizations receiving subsidies of under 80 million won.
However, even more disheartening than the number of organizations found to be involved in corruption is the depth and extent of their wrongdoing.
Some of the groups used digital technology to render past accounts as current transactions. One executive used a fabricated bank authorization to withdraw money and later transferred funds to his personal account. These are outdated methods.
There is no need to emphasize the importance of the role of NGOs in modern society. Civic activist groups have contributed greatly to monitoring government policies and spending, in addition to ensuring that corporations maintain ethical operations.
That’s why these groups have to be more ethical and cleanse themselves. Otherwise, how can they expect to hold the moral justification and authority to censure improper government and corporate activities? It is hypocritical to point to the faults of others while hiding one’s own misbehavior.
It is troubling to see the damage this could to do NGOs in the long run. In 2005, companies pledged 741.1 billion won to support NGOs. Nearly half of these companies now say they are reluctant to offer any additional financial assistance to these organizations because they are worried about how the money will be spent.
These organizations have to do some serious soul-searching. If they continue to claim they are keeping corruption in check while engaging in acts of corruption themselves, they may soon find themselves out on their own.