NATIONAL

Think-tanks blasted for fund misuse

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Oct 8, 2014 - 21:16
  • Updated : Oct 8, 2014 - 21:16

State research organizations’ indiscriminate use of corporate credit cards and funds has once again come under scrutiny with large scale illegal use coming to light in the parliamentary audit.

At the parliamentary audit of the National Research Council for Economics, Humanities and Social Sciences on Wednesday, lawmakers honed in on the credit card use.

“Incomprehensible use of corporate credit cards such as paying for movies during working hours, using them for leisure activities and drinking, and paying 360 million won ($335,000) in taxi fares over four years have been revealed,” Rep. Kim Sang-min of the ruling Saenuri Party said.

According to Kim, the Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements’ corporate cards were used on 321 occasions between 2010 and 2014 to make payments totaling 38.5 million won at various bars. The Korea Institute of Public Administration’s cards were used to pay 3.26 million won at similar establishments over the same period. State-run organizations ban the use of corporate credit cards at drinking establishments.

In addition, data showed that employees of the Korea Research Institute for Human Settlements, Korea Institute for Curriculum and Evaluation and Korea Rural Economic Institute have used corporate cards at cinemas during working hours.

The data acquired by Kim also showed that the Korea Maritime Institute’s cards have been used to pay taxi fares on more than 22,000 occasions between 2011 and 2014. The amount the institute paid in taxi fares amounted to more than 360 million won.

Kim said that although the maritime institute does not ban the use of corporate cards for taxi fares, such usage is prohibited at a large number of public organizations.

Saenuri Party Rep. Yoo Il-ho focused on personal use of corporate credit cards. Citing data compiled from the audit of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, Yoo claimed that Korea Institute of Public Administration officials used company cards to purchase personal goods and processed the spending as the institute’s operating costs.

“The chief of the Korea Institute of Public Administration used research funds to buy a high-end Hermes necktie, expensive perfume and duty-free cosmetics while on overseas business trips,” Rep. Kim Ki-juhn of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy said.

Kim Ki-juhn also said the institute used research funds to buy gifts for employees and officials from related organizations, and to award employees.

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