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[Newsmaker] Tax service chiefs: A barrel of bad apples

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Published : 2013-07-30 20:48
Updated : 2013-07-30 21:07

The former heads of the National Tax Service collectively have one of the worst track records among high-level government officials for corruption. Of the 20 individuals to head the NTS since 1966, six have been penalized for it.

Jeon Goon-pyo, who was the country’s top tax official from July 2006 to November 2007, served a prison term for taking 70 million won ($63,000) and $10,000 in cash from a subordinate in return for favorable treatment in a personnel reshuffle.

Jeon is once again under the scrutiny of the authorities for his alleged involvement in taking bribes from CJ Group. 
Jeon Goon-pyo. ( Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)

The series of NTS chiefs’ corruption cases began in the 1980, during the military regime of Chun Doo-hwan.

Ahn Mu-hyuk and Sung Yong-wook, who headed the NTS back to back in the 1980s, were both handed prison terms for gathering funds illegally for former President Roh Tae-woo’s campaign in 1987.

Having stayed in office for five years from 1982 to 1987, Ahn Mu-hyuk held the post for the longest period among the 19 past NTS commissioners. At the time of the 1987 presidential election, Ahn Mu-hyuk was the chief of the National Intelligence Service.

An NTS chief being involved in illegal campaign funding did not end with the two from the military regimes led by Roh and Chun.

Lim Chae-ju, who served during the Kim Young-sam administration, was also found guilty of taking part in an illegal campaign fund collection scam.

In more recent years, corruption by NTS chiefs has been more personal in nature. In addition to Jeon Goo-pyo, Son Young-lae and Lee Ju-sung ― NTS chiefs from the Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun administrations ― were both found guilty of receiving bribes.

In addition, two other former tax chiefs have been investigated for or accused of illegal activities.

Ahn Jung-nam, who held the post during the Kim Dae-jung administration, was accused of real estate speculation and tax evasion. The allegations led to Ahn stepping down as transport minister after only three weeks in office.

Although ultimately found to be innocent, Han Sang-yool, who served as the NTS chief between November 2007 and January 2009, was tried for bribing Jeon and receiving money from various companies.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)

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