Clean your house first, BAIAn official from the Board of Audit and Inspection, a government watchdog, is under investigation by prosecutors on charges of bribery. He is suspected of influence peddling to write a favorable audit report for a railway parts supplier. If it turns out to be true, it could ring sharp alarm bells over lax discipline in the public sector.
The Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office said that it was questioning a middle-rank official at the BAI on suspicion of taking bribes from a railway parts company. Prosecutors made the discovery, while looking into a corruption and collusion case involving the state railway authority and parts suppliers.
The official audited projects ordered by state-run Korea Railroad Corp. (Kepco) and was known to have written a favorable report for AVT, which manufactures railway fastening parts, and recommended the company serve as Kepco’s main supplier. After the BAI issued a report raising questions about the quality of rail fastening facilities of the high speed railway on the Seoul-Busan route in 2012, the company won an exclusive deal and has provided most of the fastening parts for KTX.
Under the current law on government, the BAI exists to keep close watch over and safeguard integrity in government budgetary spending and audits. It wields mighty influence with its authority to investigate and punish government offices for any wrongdoing. This is why BAI officials are required to be extraordinarily honest, transparent, fair and professional.
Corruption is unthinkable for a government office if it acts like a “supervisor” on corruption. The prosecution must get to the bottom of the case and make public the results of its investigation.
The BAI official is suspected of receiving 40 million won ($39,389) to buy a luxury car. And prosecutors are also searching his family members’ financial accounts over suspicions that he could not have stopped at taking bribes just to buy a car. If the allegations turn out to be true, the credibility of the BAI could be terribly shaken. It must conduct an internal probe to keep its house clean if it really wants to maintain its authority.
JoongAng Ilbo, June 26, Page 30