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Defense Ministry steps up anti-corruption programs

The Ministry of National Defense will implement a stringent inspection system next month as the government strives to root out corruption and enhance public trust, officials said Monday.

From October, it will also apply the property registration rule to more military officials in a bid to boost the anti-corruption drive.

Such measures came as some 120 officials from the ministry, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Defense Acquisition Program Administration, Military Manpower Administration and other military units attended a special session to enhance discipline in the defense sector.

“In order to secure public trust and respect, we need to stamp out corruption,” Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said in a press release. “For our military facing the direct enemy of North Korea, removing corruption is another battle in terms of military reform.”

The government has been striving to tighten discipline among officialdom in the wake of a spate of corruption scandals including those involving a series of officials at the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs.

Under the inspection system, top military officials handling military contracts, budgets and policy execution can call for an inspection into their subordinates should there be any suspicion of misdeeds.

Military inspectors will then investigate and offer their results within seven days after receiving the call, officials explained.

The ministry will also run a mobile inspection team that will investigate possible ethical lapses by military officials, particularly when officials are said to be susceptable to corruption such as during major holidays and after high-level officials get promoted.

By expanding the scope of officials subject to the property registration from colonel-level officials or those with higher ranks to major-level officials and above, the ministry also seeks to block inappropriate collusion between military officials and private firms.

Currently, colonel-level officers are required to register their properties with the government. Those subject to the property registration law are banned from working for private firms that had been related to their official duties for three years for two years after retirement.

The ministry will also offer anti-corruption education to officials working in areas susceptible to corruption next month. It will also hire outside anti-corruption experts to deliver a lecture next month on the code of conduct for public officials.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)
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