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Spy chief face allegations of breaching ethics code

 Won Sei-hoon, chief of the National Intelligence Service faced allegations that he may have violated related ethics codes by holding more than 400 million ($358,000) worth of stocks.

According to Friday's data on the assets of government officials, Won and his wife had 2,430 shares of Hanatour shares and over 4,000 shares of Daewoo Securities issues. They also had 13 shares in G&ST, a manufacturing firm.

The documents showed that the couple had also previously held Hyundai Motor stocks.

The current ethics code for civil servants bans stock transactions that may be connected to their duties in any way.

The code also calls for all government officials and their families to report to a related committee if they hold stocks worth over 30 million won to undergo screenings.

The validity of the stock transactions are judged according to whether the official may have in any way attained access to stock-related information.

The Ministry of Public Administration and Security said the committee had judged the stock transaction to be irrelevant to Won’s duties, but critics pointed out that the NIS handles the monitoring of data on all sectors including the economy and corporate sector, indicating that the spy agency may have access to information on the companies of the stocks he held. 

The NIS also dispatches agents to all ministries including those on finance and economy to gather data.

The NIS said Won had purchased the stocks in 2007 but had left them in his account after incurring about 1 million won of losses.

It stressed that the agency chief had not used any information he gained from his duties to buy or sell stocks.


By Kim Ji-hyun and news reports