Audit board to step up scrutiny of top officials

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Audit board to step up scrutiny of top officials

The Board of Audit and Inspection of Korea is set to step up scrutiny of high-ranking government officials and launch a large-scale reshuffle ahead of April’s local elections.

The government agency under the Prime Minister’s Office said yesterday it will newly establish departments to supervise high government officials and monitor state-run companies and local governments. The goal is “rooting out corruption,” the agency said. Thus far, task forces under the board have been doing the audits.

“Since local elections are scheduled next year, there is a high potential that we will see various side effects and corruption .?.?. and certain government bodies’ excessive issuance of approvals to cater to a specific interest groups,” said a spokesman with the audit agency.

The decision coincides with what President Lee Myung-bak has been saying recently. In a speech at a ceremony celebrating Korea’s independence from Japanese colonial period on Aug. 15, Lee announced he will seek ways to abolish corruption involving government workers. A week earlier he attributed most corruption to influential figures based in local governments. The audit board also said it will strengthen monitoring Defense Ministry matters.

Meanwhile, the Anti-corruption & Civil Rights Commission, another body under the Prime Minister’s Office, announced last week that it will begin assessing the level of integrity of high-ranking government officials some time next year.

Some 15,000 government department bureau heads or upper-level officials who receive bad evaluations will be subject to penalties, such as reduction of the agency’s budget.

By Seo Ji-eun, Baek Il-hyun []

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