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Chief auditor nominee faces tough questions

Chief state auditor nominee Yang Kun faced tough questions about his moral standards and professional independence on the first day of his parliamentary confirmation hearing Tuesday.

President Lee Myung-bak last month nominated the law professor of Hanyang University to be chairman of the Board of Audit and Inspection, which has been vacant for five months.

The former audit chief Kim Hwang-sik was named as prime minister, while Lee’s initial nominee Chung Tong-ki, a former prosecutor, gave up the nomination in January over criticism of his close personal ties to the president.

Opposition lawmakers posed a torrent of tough questions again during the Tuesday hearing, raising suspicions about the nominee that ranged from plagiarism of a study paper to real estate speculation.

Yang admitted he did not verify the source of some quotes in his articles because they were from his past papers.

About the land purchased in the name of his wife ― the price doubled over the years ― he said the couple had wanted to build a country house in Gangwon Province but denied the allegations about property speculation.

The couple was also found to have signed a “down contract” for land purchase in order to pay less real-estate transfer tax.

“The real estate dealer wrote the contract following common practices,” Yang said. “(Down contract) was not illegal at the time too,” Yang explained and apologized for causing disputes.
Chief state auditor nominee Yang Kun speaks during his parliamentary confirmation hearing Tuesday. (Yang Dong-chul/The Korea Herald)
Chief state auditor nominee Yang Kun speaks during his parliamentary confirmation hearing Tuesday. (Yang Dong-chul/The Korea Herald)

His earlier departure as the chairman of the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission also received criticism from opposition parties.

With a year and seven months remaining of his official term, Yang abruptly resigned from the post in 2009 and then President Lee named Lee Jae-oh, the current special affairs minister and his close aide, to lead the state-run rights watchdog.

“The departure was my own decision. There was no way for me to know who would replace me at the time,” Yang said.

“I voluntarily stepped down from the job because I felt limitations in eradicating corruption in my position.”

Meanwhile, lawmakers from the ruling Grand National Party questioned Yang’s future vision, saying he had all the credentials to lead the audit agency.

“I want to crack down on corruption in, among other fields, education. I have an ambition to be remembered as an audit chief who has elevated the transparency level in the education area,” Yang said.

Lawmakers at the parliamentary hearing committee are expected to decide on Yang’s appointment after a two-day questioning session until Wednesday.

Yang, 64, studied law at Seoul National University.

By Lee Ji-yoon (
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Korea Herald daum