Endless military corruption

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Endless military corruption

There seems to be no end to corruption in the military. In addition to shady deals in arms procurement and acquisitions, new findings uncovered bribery exchanges behind the construction of apartments for soldiers. Prosecutors indicted seven executives from Daebo Construction as well as its brokers for paying bribes to win construction orders from the military. Four active soldiers were referred to military prosecutors.

They allegedly received bribes to help the company aquire orders to build residential homes for senior military officers in Icheon and Army barracks in Paju and Yangju, Gyeonggi. The company’s vice president, a retired Army colonel, gave 250 million won ($231,000) to 12 officers and professors who were members of a committee reviewing and selecting bids. In the end, it won the 50 billion won bid to build an Army residential apartment complex in Icheon.

The apartment, less than a year old, already shows cracks in its inner and exterior walls, and has water leaks, which suggests botched construction. The residence was built with tax money to provide stable homes for soldiers’ families, who must often move. But the money was wasted because of the shady connections among the builder, a retired soldier working as a lobbyist, and corrupt soldiers. Corruption in military building contracts was also uncovered in 2001 and 2003.

Corruption and bribery is rampant throughout military procurements, from food to office supplies. In 2009, an active lieutenant commander blew the whistle on the irregular practices taking place in the military procurement process. He accused the military of wasting state funds by making private purchases when it could buy the same products for less through the Public Procurement Service. But despite the exposure, the military maintains private purchase practices and had to improve its ways of ensuring transparency in procurements.

Apart from weapons and arms, the military could save a lot if it assigned construction and supply orders to the state Public Procurement Service. There is no reason why active soldiers should be recruited to review bids to build residences for soldiers and families. A closed system can breed corruption, and companies with shady business connections to the military should be heavily punished. They must be crushed so that no business can think of making money through shoddy tricks and dubious deals.

JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 16, Page 30

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