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Election watchdog's probe shows 4 additional suspected hiring corruption cases

June 2, 2023 - 09:35 By Yonhap
National Election Commission Chairman Rho Tae-ak bows his head during a press conference at the agency's head office in Gwacheon, south of Seoul, on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

Children of four retired senior officials at the National Election Commission were additionally found to have been employed by the election watchdog, an investigation showed Friday, raising suspicions that the individuals secured the positions through their fathers' influence.

The children of the four former officials were hired for experienced positions at three different regional offices, where their fathers had previously worked, according to the results of the investigation conducted by the election watchdog, released by People Power Party Rep. Jeong Bong-min.

Earlier, six similar cases were reported, prompting the NEC to launch an internal investigation into all former and current officials over possible nepotism in the employment process.

The NEC announced it will conduct an internal audit to assess the validity of the four new allegations and determine whether a formal investigation is needed.

On Wednesday, the NEC's special audit committee held a meeting and decided to refer four senior officials, including Secretary General Park Chan-jin and Deputy Secretary General Song Bong-sup, to an investigation over the suspicions.

The committee said circumstances were detected that made it difficult to rule out the possibility that the four exercised undue influence in the hiring process of their four children for experienced positions.

Song and Park have consistently rejected the allegations, emphasizing the hiring of their children was done in a fair and transparent manner, and that their children have received no favors since joining the election agency.

Additionally, the state anti-corruption agency also launched its own independent investigation into all former and incumbent officials of the NEC for possible irregularities related to the hiring of their children.

Meanwhile, NEC Chairman Rho Tae-ak declined to comment when asked about the agency's decision to refuse an audit by the Board of Audit and Inspection.

The NEC has balked at the proposed audit, citing its status as an independent agency not part of the administration.

The NEC was scheduled to hold a meeting and further deliberate on the issue. (Yonhap)