$10.2 million distributed to veterans not eligible for benefits

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$10.2 million distributed to veterans not eligible for benefits

An inspection of the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans' Affairs by the Board of Audit and Inspection has found that the ministry improperly distributed a total 11.8 billion won ($10.2 million) to individuals who should have been ineligible for veterans' benefits due to their criminal record or non-existent military service, according to the board on Wednesday.
 
According to the Act on the Honorable Treatment of and Support for Persons, etc. of Distinguished Service to the State, an individual who has committed a serious crime such as murder or violent theft and received a prison sentence of over a year cannot register for state benefits, regardless of their previous service to the country.
 
However, in its audit of the Veterans’ Ministry, the board discovered that 183 individuals who registered for benefits from the ministry should have been denied registration based on their criminal backgrounds.
 
One-hundred-eighty of the improperly registered individuals had been convicted of violent crimes such as murder, attempted murder, rape and robbery. Three had been found guilty of violating the National Security Act, which restricts speech or activities in favor of North Korea or supporting communism.
 
The total sum of monthly benefits distributed to the 183 individuals totaled 11.8 billion won.
 
In one instance of an improper registration, the Veterans’ Ministry requested a criminal background check from police for an individual who submitted an application for benefits in November 2015.
 
Although police informed the ministry that the individual had been convicted of murder in 1973 and received a ten-year prison sentence, the ministry registered him for benefits. He has since received 46.5 million won from the ministry.
 
The board also found that although the ministry had registered an individual as a Vietnam War veteran, the man in question had never set foot in Vietnam during the conflict.
 
Although the man received a deployment order for Vietnam in 1972, the order was eventually cancelled and he returned to his original unit.
 
However, he was able to register himself as a Vietnam veteran in September 2004, despite lacking documents that proved his deployment period or the date of his return to Korea.
 
He received a total 18.5 million won from the government for his fraudulent war service.
 
The board’s audit uncovered five others who falsified their service in Vietnam to receive veterans’ benefits. The six individuals received a total of 137.7 million won from the ministry.

BY MICHAEL LEE [lee.junhyuk@joongang.co.kr]
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