Prosecutors look at illegal probe by ethics officials

Home > National > Social Affairs

print dictionary print

Prosecutors look at illegal probe by ethics officials

The Prime Minister’s Office formally asked prosecutors yesterday to investigate four of its ethics officials over allegations they conducted an illegal probe of a civilian.

Lee In-kyu, a senior member of the public ethics team in the Prime Minister’s Office, and three others were accused of having conducted an unlawful investigation of a local businessman, Kim Jong-ik. “We probed the four officials from Friday until Sunday over the allegations and decided to refer the case to the prosecution,” said Cho Won-dong, vice minister for general affairs at the Prime Minister’s Office. “We believed they are suspected of having violated the code of conduct governing public servants.” The ethics office is allowed to investigate civil servants, but not ordinary citizens.

In response to the request, a spokesman for the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday, “Prosecutor General Kim Joon-kyu ordered a special investigative team to look into the case thoroughly and sternly.”

Kim has said he was investigated by the Prime Minister’s Office after posting a video clip critical of President Lee Myung-bak from an Internet site on his blog in June 2008. The ethics team was also suspected of pressuring a main contractor of Kim’s company to resign. Kim resigned as CEO of his company thereafter. The Prime Minister’s Office said the ethics team had received a report in September 2008 that a public servant had criticized the president. The team launched an investigation without properly identifying whether the target was actually a civil servant or not, the office said. “We need to lay bare the truth about suspicions that the ethics team had abused its authority,” Cho said.

Lee also said yesterday that he will not allow an influence peddling scandal in his administration. “Until my term ends, I will not tolerate any corruption by my relatives or any influence peddling by my aides,” Lee was quoted as saying by his spokesman Park Sun-kyoo. “Some low-ranking people are abusing their power from time to time. Although they say they are doing so for the sake of the government, such an abuse of power is not acceptable.”

Park said Lee’s remarks were prompted by the scandal over the illegal investigation of a civilian. Despite the Prime Minister’s Office and the Blue House’s efforts to contain the scandal, the opposition has voiced suspicion that a private group of top officials connected to the president by hometown bond was behind the investigation.

The Democratic Party said the Yeongpo Club, an organization of public servants from Yeongil and Pohang areas of North Gyeongsang established in 1980, was behind the investigation. Yeongpo is an acronym that combines the names of Yeongil and Pohang. Lee is from Pohang. The Democratic Party claimed that Lee In-kyu is a Yeongpo Club member and that he had reported the investigation results directly to the presidential secretary for labor, Lee Young-ho, another member of the club. In a radio interview, DP’s chief policy maker Jun Byung-hun demanded the Yeongpo Club’s alleged involvement must be investigated thoroughly.  


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
Related Korean Article

MB “철저 수사” 발언 하루 만에, 총리실 수사 의뢰 2시간 만에 착수



검찰이 5일 경북 영일·포항 출신의 고위 공무원 모임인 ‘영포목우회’ 소속 회원들의 월권행위 논란으로 정치 쟁점화된 국무총리실의 민간인 불법 사찰 의혹에 대해 특별수사팀을 구성해 수사에 나섰다.

이명박 대통령이 철저한 수사를 지시한 지 하루 만에, 총리실이 검찰에 수사를 의뢰한 지 2시간 만에 전격적으로 수사에 착수한 것이다. 김준규 검찰총장은 이날 “특별수사팀을 구성해 철저히 수사하 라”고 지시했다고 조은석 대검찰청 대변인이 밝혔다. 김 총장의 이 같은 지시는 총리실이 이날 이인규 공직윤리지원관 등 직원 4명에 대한 수사를 검찰에 의뢰한 데 따른 것이다.

검찰이 이처럼 빠르게 수사에 착수한 것은 ‘검찰 조직이 불필요한 정치적 논란에 휩싸이지 않기 위해서는 신속한 수사가 필요하다’는 판단이 작용한 것으로 보인다.

이에 서울중앙지검은 오정돈 형사1부장검사를 팀장으로 하는 특별수사팀을 꾸렸다. 이 수사팀에는 형사부와 특수부 검사 등 검사 3명이 배치됐다.

특별수사팀은 이 지원관 등이 2008년 9월 “공공기관 종사자가 대통령을 비방한다”는 제보를 접수한 뒤 조사 대상이 아닌 민간인인 김씨를 사찰한 과정을 중점적으로 조사할 계획이다. 아울러 이들이 김씨 회사를 불법 압수수색하고 은행 측에 거래를 끊도록 강요했다는 의혹 등도 규명하기로 했다. 그러나 영포목우회와의 관련성 등 수사의뢰서에 포함되지 않은 내용은 일단 수사 대상에서 제외하기로 했다.

◆총리실, 관련 직원 3명 직위해제=앞서 총리실 조원동 사무차장은 이날 조사 결과 발표에서 “조사 대상으로 적격인지 여부에 대한 확인이 제대로 이뤄지지 않았고 그 결과 민간인을 상대로 한 조사가 이뤄졌다”며 ‘총리실의 민간인 사찰’을 인정했다. 총리실은 이날 뒤늦게 합류해 민간인 조사에 참여하지 않은 조사관 1명을 제외한 3명을 직위해제하고 징계위원회에 회부하기로 했다.

  • 한글 기사 보기

  • Log in to Twitter or Facebook account to connect
    with the Korea JoongAng Daily
    help-image Social comment?
    s
    lock icon

    To write comments, please log in to one of the accounts.

    Standards Board Policy (0/250자)

    What’s Popular Now