Scant fallout from nuke shenanigans

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Scant fallout from nuke shenanigans

Last May 28, the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission announced the outcome of its investigation into the nuclear reactor corruption scandal involving the managers and officials who used counterfeit parts with forged test certificates, and ordered the shutdown of six reactors in Busan and Gyeongju cities.

Today marks six months since that announcement. And although the prosecution has indicted a total of 140 officials and managers in the bribery scandal, including the former knowledge and economy deputy minister, Park Young-joon, some major players in the case have come out completely unscathed.

According to the prosecution, the case is basically about two rounds of corruption.

First, JS Cable supplied shoddy cables worth about 18 billion won ($16 million) for the reactors by forging test certificates of the products.

Separately, several suppliers bribed a series of high-ranking officials at the Korea Electric and Power Corporation and the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Corporation to win bids for supplying their shoddy parts to the reactors.

Park, the former deputy minister, has been indicted and detained by the prosecution for allegedly having received 50 million won in bribes from a former Seoul city councilor to turn a blind eye on the shoddy components of a supplier called Hankook Jungsoo Industries.

But there are several companies that have not punished their officials at all, such as the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Corporation and the LS Group. JS Cable is a subsidiary of the LS Group.

Neither of the companies has announced any changes as a result of the scandal.

All of the managers and officials in charge of the nuclear reactors business are still in their positions. No one has been fired or punished.

In June, the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Corporation held “an emergency meeting,” and a total of 197 executives and officials reached a consensus to tender their resignations to assume responsibility for the scandal.

However, not a single resignation has been accepted by management, so all of them are still working.

The corporation is also maintaining its contracts with the suppliers that sold the company counterfeit parts for the reactors.

According to the prosecution, that’s apparently because 93 percent of the 46 employees of the corporation who retired in the past five years were hired by the suppliers after retirement.

The LS Group is also in a similar situation. On Oct. 21, the group published advertisements in several local newspapers saying, “We are terribly sorry for causing concerns about the rigged bidding between LS Group and JS Cable, which is one of our subsidiaries, to supply cables for the nuclear reactors.”

But that was it. There were no punishment, firings and no measures to prevent further corruption.

“Although we are discussing how to prevent further bribery, it would be difficult for us to release an outcome immediately,” an official at the LS Group told the JoongAng Ilbo.

“We did not open any internal investigation into the case, and about whether JS Cable indeed forged the certificates of their products and supplied them to relevant companies or not,” the official continued. “The prosecution is already doing that.”

BY WE SUNG-WOOK AND CHAE YOON-KYUNG [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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