Park’s lab partner vows to root out corruption

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Park’s lab partner vows to root out corruption


The new head of the country’s procurement agency has vowed to root out perennial corruption from the defense industry.

Chang Myoung-jin, the new head of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration, said Wednesday that a major investigation will be launched to expose corruption among defense suppliers.

President Park Geun-hye appointed Chang, a weapons developer with the state-run Agency for Defense Development, to the post on Tuesday.

“The president demanded drastic reform in the defense industry to root out corruption,” Chang said in his inaugural speech Wednesday. “We must act boldly to remove the festering wounds and endure the pain of healing. We must make painstaking efforts.”

Chang said his top priority is restoring public trust in the country’s procurement system. “I will not hesitate to achieve this mission,” he said.

He also said Park’s agenda of encouraging a more creative economy will be realized through defense technologies and he will do his best to promote Park’s philosophy of economic prosperity and strong security.

Chang was a classmate of Park’s at the electronic engineering department of Sogang University. Chang and Park were laboratory partners during their junior year and they reportedly ate lunch together almost every day.

After a series of corruption scandals arose from the military’s procurement agency, Park pledged swift reform at a cabinet meeting on Oct. 28. “They are accumulated evils,” Park said. “We have to remove these anomalies boldly in order to allow the defense industry to rise.”

The government will launch a joint investigation on Friday to probe the series of procurement corruptions and irregularities. Led by Kim Gi-dong, head of the Goyang District Prosecutors Office, the team will include 18 prosecutors and 105 agents and staffers from the military, police, National Tax Service and Financial Supervisory Service.

Kim recently investigated a network of corruption involving the country’s nuclear energy industry.

The Board of Audit and Inspection will also form a separate monitoring team and the National Intelligence Service will create a special team to feed information to the investigators.

The joint investigation team’s first task will be expanding an ongoing probe into the Navy’s botched Tongyeong salvage and rescue ship project. A retired Navy captain has already been arrested on charges of orchestrating a series of irregularities linked to $192 million worth of defense contracts.

He is suspected of perpetuating a massive bribery scheme linked to weapons procurement projects over the past years. After questioning the captain, only identified as Kim, prosecutors are now targeting Hackenco, an American naval and marine equipment supplier.

The firm has no record of winning any defense contracts in Korea before 2009, but after hiring Kim as its lobbyist, it won 10 major contracts from Korea’s Navy.

Kim was suspected of receiving 400 million won ($358,536) from the company.


BY SER MYO-JA [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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