Antigraft unit targets big cars, credit card usage

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Antigraft unit targets big cars, credit card usage

The Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission of Korea issued an official recommendation on Wednesday to the Ministry of Strategy and Finance to reduce the size of cars used by officials at public companies and to prohibit workers from using corporate credit cards at bars and other establishments that serve alcohol.

Even though the advisory is not mandatory, if the Strategy and Finance Ministry - which is under heavy pressure from President Park Geun-hye to “normalize public institutions” - accepts it, the repercussions across society could be huge.

The state-run commission pointed out that public companies and government institutions did not have detailed regulations that limited the engine displacement of workers’ vehicles, leading many to drive excessively big cars.

Furthermore, the commission discovered after checking 69 public companies nationwide last month that 66.7 percent of them gave out company cars to executives. That represents a stark gap with government officials, especially given that only ministers and deputy ministers are provided cars - vehicles with engine displacements of 3.3 liters and 2.8 liters.

Some department heads have even been known to sit behind the wheel of cars with engine displacements more than 3 liters.

The Hyundai Sonata, for example, one of the most common cars in Korea, has an engine size of about 2 liters or more, while the Hyundai Equus, an upscale luxury sedan, has an engine size of up to 5 liters.

“We have recommended that public companies shrink the size of the cars they use for work to 2 liters or smaller, except for those devoted to diplomatic purposes,” said an official with the commission. “It’s not right that public companies utilize such large vehicles.”

The anticorruption body also stressed that employees of public company should be prohibited from using corporate credit cards at bars and cafes that serve alcoholic beverages. Currently, credit cards are only banned at room salons.

“Use of corporate credit cards should be forbidden at every establishment that sells alcohol, except during some official ceremonies,” the commission official said. “Spending corporate money on dining with acquaintances, with little business ties, should also be limited.”


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