Community Chest in turmoil over scandal

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Community Chest in turmoil over scandal

The leadership of the Community Chest of Korea, the nation’s only government backed charity chest, decided to resign en masse after the organization’s reputation was tainted by senior officials who used the organization’s funds to pay for drinks, karaoke rooms and skiing.

In a statement yesterday, the Community Chest of Korea said 20 leaders, including its President Yoon Byung-chul and Secretary General Park Eul-jong, decided to step down to take responsibility for the scandal.

Vice President Lee Kyung-sook and two other board members of the organization also expressed their intention to resign, but they will follow suit after the organization appoints new leadership, not to cause turmoil in the organization.

“Staff at the Community Chest of Korea are entitled to shape a better world by delivering donations to needy neighbors, and I bow my head and apologize for my staffs’ misdeeds,” said Yoon Byung-chul, the head of the organization, in a statement yesterday. “The organization needs a complete facelift and it must change itself and its staff. To make this happen swiftly, this organization needs new leadership.”

The public’s criticism of the organization’s binge spending and corrupt management grew in October when parliamentary inspection by the Ministry of Health and Welfare found that some charity officials have been involved in several cases of embezzlement and corruption in recent years.

According to the charity’s report to a parliamentary audit session, a senior official at the organization’s Incheon branch manipulated account books and used a corporate credit card to pay 33 million won ($29,225) for meals and drinks.

According to the inspection report, the Incheon branch didn’t sue him for embezzlement and breach of trust, and it didn’t even carry out any punishment after the official paid back the money.

The Ministry of Health and Welfare announced yesterday the results of its investigation into 16 branches of the Community Chest of Korea from Oct. 11 to Nov. 11 and demanded a reorganization to dismiss Park.

The ministry also asked prosecutors to investigate two officials on suspicion of embezzling organization funds and ordered the organization to retrieve 750 million won from staff members who lavishly used organization funds for personal use.

The organization has 292 staff members across the country and the ministry ordered the organization to punish 55 percent of its staff for carelessly managing the budget.

Of the 55 percent, the ministry ordered the organization to dismiss, cut pay or suspend 48 staff members.


By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

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