Honor for sale

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Honor for sale

Prosecutors have embarked on an investigation into the illegal resale of ownership rights in apartments in Sejong City. The Daejeon District Prosecutors’ Office has raided real estate agencies in the city to scrutinize files and transactions regarding apartments and ownership rights.

They also obtained a list of government officials who have been awarded with the rights to purchase units in new apartment complexes in the city, as well as the data on registered real estate transactions from 2011 to April this year from central and local government offices.
Prosecutors said they would disclose how many government officials were involved in illegal trades and how much they have profited from resales.

Government officials were given priority to purchase apartments in Sejong City to help them resettle in the new administrative home city of government offices and state-run agencies. Many of them purportedly sold the ownership rights with a premium of up to 100 million won ($85,000), with a one-year ban on resales without moving into their new home.

Of the 9,900 public servants who received the rights to buy apartments in the area, only 6,198 actually moved in.

Even counting the people who withdrew from their contracts for financial reasons, around 2,000 are estimated to have profited from reselling their purchasing rights.

If government officials used their rights to buy apartments for far cheaper than the going market rates, they should not be eligible for public service. The government in March 2014 belatedly raised its resale ban period to three years, up from one year.

Whether the prosecution probe is aimed at taming bureaucrats after the general election or not, this illegality cannot be justified on any account.

Prosecutors must get to the bottom of the incident and punish civil servants who lack respect for law and order and the public service ethics code.

JoongAng Ilbo, May 13, Page 34
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