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(LEAD) Foreign ministry seeks probe into top envoy in Nigeria over alleged unfair hiring

Diplomacy 17:48 January 12, 2021

(ATTN: ADDS more details in paras 5 and 9)

SEOUL, Jan. 12 (Yonhap) -- The foreign ministry has filed a complaint with the prosecution seeking a probe into allegations that the South Korean ambassador in Nigeria was involved in the unfair hiring of a former embassy employee, officials said Tuesday.

A local newspaper reported that the ministry filed the complaint after finding substantial grounds to believe that Ambassador Lee In-tae gave undue favors to the Korean employee in the course of recruitment in 2019.

The embassy staff member in question quit the job after suspicions arose that he sexually harassed a local cleaner.

The ministry said it has conducted its own probe into these allegations, including the alleged sexual misconduct.

"We're taking necessary steps based on our probe result in line with the regulations," the ministry said, without elaborating on what such steps were.

The ministry has ordered the ambassador to return to Seoul and requested the case be referred to the government's central disciplinary committee, an informed source said.

The allegations were first raised by an opposition lawmaker during a parliament audit in October.

According to the lawmaker, Lee allegedly blocked the open hiring process for an administrative position at the embassy between July and August of 2019. He allegedly then gave his staff in charge of recruitment personal details on one candidate before the embassy hired that person for the job.

In a statement sent to media, the ambassador denied that he exerted influence in the hiring process, though he admitted that he had given the personal information to the recruitment staff based on the recommendation from one of his acquaintances.

Lee, a retired major general of the Army, was appointed as the ambassador to the African country by President Moon Jae-in in May 2018.

(LEAD) Foreign ministry seeks probe into top envoy in Nigeria over alleged unfair hiring - 1


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