Shame all around

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Shame all around

 In a strange development, a whistle-blower from the Korea Future Development Institute, a pro-government think tank, volunteered to submit a letter of confession to the prosecution, saying, “I am an accomplice, too!” after revealing accounting fraud at the research center. His action explicitly shows how the top law enforcement agency drags its feet on sensitive cases involving political bigwigs in the Moon Jae-in administration.

The informant revealed the institute’s accounting fraud through the media in May. He claimed that in 2011, when Rep. Youn Kun-young — a current lawmaker from the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and a former senior official at President Moon Jae-in’s Blue House — served as head of the institute’s planning office, the institute did transactions through several suspicious bank accounts it had opened in the names of its employees. The informer also confessed that he had received his monthly paychecks from a DP lawmaker's office — not from the institute — after being enrolled as an intern for his office.

After a civic group filed its accusations with the prosecution in June, the case was assigned to the Seoul Southern District Prosecutors’ Office. There are several lawmakers whose reputation was critically damaged after hiring “ghost” aides in the last National Assembly. For instance, former Rep. Lee Koon-hyon lost his seat after being sentenced to a jail term for hiring phantom employees.

The prosecution will have no trouble investigating the case since the whistle-blower presented tangible evidence of accounting fraud, such as a bankbook he used to receive his monthly pay. However, the prosecution has been sitting on its hands over the past three months. The informant even said the prosecution told him it could not start investigating because of other urgent cases.

Who would believe what the prosecution says? The prosecution’s dilly-dallying on the case most likely resulted from its fear of retaliation from political heavyweights in the DP, and its concerns about the revealing of illicit financial deals at the institute. If this situation — in which a whistle-blower is begging for a probe at the risk of a criminal penalty — is not a farce, what is?

Because of the Blue House’s mighty power, the police could not investigate sensitive cases involving officials from the presidential office in the past. Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae has even demoted prosecutors for digging up dirt on the powers that be. Under such circumstances, who would probe such cases? That’s a sad portrait of our law enforcement agencies.
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