Corruption among state officials is threatening South Korea’s transition from emerging market to developed economy, Lee Myung-bak, president, has said after a banking scandal put graft in the spotlight.
Prosecutors are investigating whether regulators ignored corruption at several savings banks in return for tens of thousands of dollars in cash bribes and, in one case, a diamond.
Seoul has been trying to persuade foreign investors that it has flushed out corruption since the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, when some of South Korea’s biggest companies collapsed because of illicit relations between executives, bankers and state officials.
However, Mr Lee said on Monday that the country was still struggling with a culture of illicit favours, which was “rampant not only among financial regulators but also in other parts of society, ranging from the judiciary, tax authorities and military through to the civil service”.
“Unless we eradicate this, we will not be able to become a leading, advanced nation,” he said.
Although Seoul is an industrial heavy weight, its financial markets have suffered a habitual “Korea discount” , partly because of corruption concerns.
MSCI, the index compiler, will announce whether it intends to upgrade South Korea to developed market status this month.
It classes Seoul as an emerging market and its sovereign debt does not feature on Citigroup’s government bond index.
In the latest scandal, Seoul suspended eight savings banks. Prosecutors have opened investigations into several bank executives and regulators, accusing them of colluding to embezzle funds and grant illegal loans.
Prosecutors also allege regulators tipped off bankers and former officials about the impending suspensions, allowing them to withdraw funds in advance. Those under investigation deny they paid for favours, arguing any payments were part of the tradition of giving gifts on holidays.
运动团体经济正义公民联盟(Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice)的Lee Gi-woong表示，这宗银行业丑闻只是“冰山一角”。韩国最大企业三星集团(Samsung Group)的董事长李健熙(Lee Kun-hee)上周发表的言论支持这一观点。李健熙表示，他认为腐败正在整个集团蔓延开来。
Lee Gi-woong, from the Citizens’ Coalition for Economic Justice, a campaign group, said the banking scandal was just “the tip of the iceberg”, a view supported by remarks last week from Lee Kun-hee, chairman of Samsung Group, who said he thought corruption prevailed throughout his company, South Korea’s biggest.
2011-06-14 10:55 编辑：典典