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NEC stonewalls on state auditor's repeated requests for data for hiring scandal inspection

Politics 14:08 June 08, 2023

By Kim Han-joo

SEOUL, June 8 (Yonhap) -- The National Election Commission (NEC) has been stonewalling on repeated requests from the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) that the election watchdog submit necessary data for an inspection into hiring corruption allegations.

The BAI has made such requests three times over the past week since announcing its plan to conduct an inspection into suspicions that children of senior NEC officials landed agency jobs thanks to the influence of their fathers.

The NEC later decided to refuse the inspection, citing its status as an independent agency. Since then, it has not responded to the BAI's requests for relevant data. After two requests went unanswered, the BAI sent some officials to the NEC, but they came back empty-handed.

The NEC has not even sent documents to BAI that it will not accept the inspection.

"We are aware of the BAI's position through news reports and the BAI is already aware of our stance, so I do not know whether we will send an official document in response," said an NEC official who asked not to be named.

Amid mounting public criticism, however, the NEC's position on the BAI inspection could change. On Friday, the agency is scheduled to hold a meeting of commissioners to discuss whether to continue to refuse the BAI inspection.

The potential shift in stance comes as the ruling People Power Party increases pressure by passing a resolution calling for the resignation of all nine NEC commissioners, including Chairperson Rho Tae-ak, to take responsibility for what it refers to as the "daddy chance."

The confrontation between the two agencies may escalate further if the NEC once again decides to refuse the BAI's inspection, even in a partial manner, citing its independence guaranteed under the Constitution.

In such a case, the BAI is expected to refer NEC officials to the prosecution for a formal investigation.

NEC Chairperson Rho apologized over the scandal, saying the commission will request a criminal investigation of at least four officials and take steps to prevent similar cases from happening again. Still, Rho has said he has no intention to step down.

The National Election Commission head office in Gwacheon, south of Seoul (Yonhap)

The National Election Commission head office in Gwacheon, south of Seoul (Yonhap)


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