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Auditor nominee likely to resign under pressure

Ruling party demands Chung give up post over ethical issues

The ruling Grand National Party on Monday called for Chung Tong-ki, nominee for chairman of the Board of Audit and Inspection, to resign from his position.

The GNP’s demand was an apparent bid to soothe public antipathy toward the former prosecutor, who has made 100 million won ($87,000) a month since stepping down as a prosecutor, allegedly on the back of his career.

“We have gathered public opinion during the weekend and concluded that Chung is not the right fit for the top auditor,” said GNP Chairman Ahn Sang-soo during a meeting of the party’s Supreme Council.

“Chung’s voluntary resignation will be good for the public and for the president.”

Hong Joon-pyo, a Supreme Council member, also put pressure on Chung to resign.

“To win the general and the presidential elections scheduled for next year, the party should strive to win the heart and trust of the public. If there is something wrong with personnel management or policies of the government, we should change it,” Hong said. 
Chung Tong-ki
Chung Tong-ki

Chung is likely to resign, observers say, to avoid further burdening President Lee Myung-bak and his conservative government, which has been criticized over a string of controversial personnel policies in the past three years.

“The president said nothing particular after being briefed on the GNP’s stances,” said Hong Sang-pyo, Lee’s senior secretary for public relations.

“It is quite a shame the way the ruling party has delivered its message though we understand that that it can express its own ideas,” he said.

Chung, a former prosecutor and member of the transition team for President Lee, has raised suspicions over his “unusually rapid” accumulation of wealth.

He reportedly received 699.4 million won from a law firm over a period of less than seven months from 2007 to 2008 and his wealth rose from 1.37 billion won to 2.12 billion won in August 2008 after he was chosen to work for the transition team.

His opponents have claimed that he wrongfully took advantage of law firms’ long-standing practice of scouting former prosecutors or judges to host lucrative endorsements. The practice is still rampant in the legal circle since former high-ranking prosecutors or senior judges are thought to have a huge influence on their incumbent juniors with their investigations and rulings.

Chung denied any illegalities but admitted his salary was “a bit higher than ordinary salaried workers.”

The main opposition Democratic Party has vowed to grill him at his confirmation hearing slated for Dec. 19-20, pressurizing President Lee to scrap his nomination.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)
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