(LEAD) CIO raids Seoul education office over superintendent's favoritism allegations
(ATTN: ADDS Seoul superintendent's comments in paras 6 and 7)
SEOUL, May 18 (Yonhap) -- The Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials (CIO) raided the Seoul education office Tuesday over allegations that its chief provided favors to certain candidates in a hiring process.
Investigators searched the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education building, including the superintendent's office, in central Seoul since around 9:30 a.m., according to the education office.
This marked the first raid since the CIO began an investigation into favoritism allegations surrounding Cho Hee-yeon, the superintendent of the capital city's education office. The CIO, launched early this year, took up the case as its first investigation last week.
Cho is accused of abusing his power from July to August in 2018 by ordering his office to hire five former teachers. According to the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI), all five of them were hired despite oppositions from working-level officials at the office who were concerned over favoritism.
Cho and the education office denied their wrongdoing, saying the hiring took place in accordance with regulations.
"I hope the CIO will make a decision based on the law without being affected by politics ... and will be written down in history as a model for proper probes," Cho said in a statement released after the raid.
The Seoul education office will actively cooperate with the ongoing investigation, he added.
Last month, the BAI reported Cho to police on charges of violating the State Public Officials Act and delivered relevant documents to the corruption investigation agency. On May 4, the police transferred the case to the CIO upon the agency's request.
The CIO began operations in January to uproot corruption among high-ranking officials. It is authorized to investigate and prosecute former and current public officials, including the president, lawmakers and prosecutors.
Under the policy stipulated in the CIO's rulebook, the agency has the power to demand the prosecution and police hand over corruption cases involving high-ranking officials.
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