Lobbying from on highEun Jin-soo, an auditor of the Board of Audit and Inspection and a close ally of President Lee Myung-bak, is under suspicion of being involved in lobbying for the corruption-ridden Busan Savings Bank Group.
The public uproar over the almost unbelievable amount of corruption in the group is only fuelled by the government’s incompetence and immorality as Lee enters his fourth year as president.
It’s reported that Eun met high-ranking government officials to lobby for the bank after it got into trouble. He is also said to have withdrawn his own money from the bank before it was suspended.
We are dumbfounded that Eun, as one of the top auditors, took such an action, defying his responsibility to watch out for corruption at financial companies. As the government’s top inspection arm - mandated by the Constitution - the BAI has responsibility for examining irregularities at savings banks, along with the Financial Supervisory Service, which oversees those banks, and the Financial Services Commission, which makes pertinent policies.
Auditors are required to maintain political neutrality in return for the prestige they receive. But Eun was a politician who ran for office as a candidate for the ruling Grand National Party after working as a prosecutor and a lawyer. After the GNP’s presidential victory in 2007, he served as a legal adviser to Lee’s presidential transition committee.
That’s why his nomination as a BAI auditor was seen as a typical example of Lee’s revolving-door appointments. Despite worries over the potential damage to the independence and political neutrality of the BAI, he has been at the center of controversy since taking the job.
Many observes naturally thought Eun was one of the sources of pressure when Prime Minister Kim Hwan-sik said he received much pressure when he, as head of the BAI, launched an investigation into corruption at savings banks.
Our past administrations often found themselves embroiled in this type of lame-duck scandal during the fourth years of their terms.
Lee vowed that his administration would be immune from corruption and wouldn’t suffer that fate. Compared to the corruption of past administrations, however, the depth of Lee’s advisers’ and other friends’ corruption goes way beyond our imagination.
If President Lee sides with his close personal ally in this case, it will deepen our frustration. He should make a drastic decision now.
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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