Audit shows NEC employees go on overseas trips, golf outings with commissioners’ allowances

July 10, 2023

The state audit agency said Monday it has uncovered irregularities involving the National Election Commission (NEC), where its employees utilized commissioners’ allowances for other purposes, such as overseas trips or golf outings.

Wrapping up its regular inspection, the Board of Audit and Inspection (BAI) concluded that 128 employees of the election watchdog violated the so-called Kim Young-ran anti-graft law.

Each non-permanent NEC commissioner is entitled to an allowance of 60,000 won (US$46) for attending every committee meeting during an election period. However, some committees withheld these payments and used the money for their own expenses instead of paying the commissioners.

The audit result shows that 20 NEC officials utilized the expenses for their overseas trips and golf outings, while 108 others received hundreds of thousands of won under the guise of different purposes.

The NEC refuted the audit results, saying the anti-graft law cannot be applied because commissioners are higher NEC employees.

While the NEC is subject to BAI regular audits conducted every four years, the scope is typically limited to accounting and simple administrative affairs since the agency is an independent constitutional body.

In recent months, the NEC has been embroiled in a hiring corruption scandal. Nepotism allegations have surfaced that several children of former and current senior officials at the NEC secured agency jobs thanks to their fathers’ influence.

The National Election Commission (Yonhap)
The National Election Commission (Yonhap)