“Is Korea a heaven of corruption? I could never agree with it.”
Mr. Drago Kos, Chair of the OECD Working Group on Bribery, who visited Republic of Korea to attend the 2018 Fair Player Club Summit & Pledge Ceremony, which was held on March 7, 2018, at Grand Ballroom, Grand Hyatt Seoul, Seoul, Republic of Korea, mentioned like above in the interview with the Law Times by supporting the South Korean anti-corruption policy drive.
Republic of Korea has suffered the unprecedented impeachment of the President, due to manipulating of government affairs by informal but influential figures and unsound ties between politics and business. On the streets, citizens carried candles and expressed their despair by saying "Is this the country?". In the "2017 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI)" announced by the International Transparency International (TI), Republic of Korea marked its score as 53 out of 100 and ranked as the 51st, the lowest level (the 29th among the 35 OECD countries).
However, Mr. Kos emphasized that “Republic of Korea is one of the best countries to work hard to prevent the corruption. Corruption at the highest level often occurs in other countries too. The important thing is the continuous commitment to prevent and overcome corruption.”
The OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions was the first international treaty to define bribery in international commercial transactions as a crime, which was enacted from February 1999.
The OECD Working Group monitors corruption status and anti-corruption efforts of 44 OECD member states including Republic of Korea which made the Foreign Bribery Transaction Prevention Act since January 1999 and publishes reports including recommendations by country.
Mr. Kos picked the advantage of Republic of Korea as its aggressiveness toward anti-corruption. He said that “Corruption comes from human greed and imperfect nature. Continuous and persistent efforts are important because they are difficult to eradicate completely. Republic of Korea has fully implemented a significant portion of the 16 proposals from the OECD Working Group on Bribery. In the recent government affairs manipulating scandal, the South Korean society has kept a principle of zero tolerance that all are punished in law violation. I hope the OECD countries including my country Slovenia take lessons from the South Korea’s efforts for anti-corruption”.
Mr. Kos drew an analogy between politics and a heart of democracy and money from companies and blood. He said that “Dirty money, contaminated with corruption, is a culprit for killing democracy” and emphasized sensitivity towards corruption and a role of the legal community as driving forces to eradicate corruption. “The higher sensitivity towards corruption, the lesser possibility of corruption in reality. If sensitive people are increasing, democratic governments will act proactively to prevent corruption and to consider strict punishment, in order to obtain more votes. The legal community including in-house counsels plays an advising role of a threshold for companies and society to abide by principles and stop wrong practices. Based on this, the judiciary should build social trust by keeping a zero tolerance principle to punish illegal acts severely without exception. The government has to build its internal self-cleansing system preventing illegal conducts and rewards should be given for positive efforts”.
Mr. Kos is an international anti-corruption expert who is engaged in economic and financial crime prevention activities. In 1983, he began his career as a police officer. In 1991, he passed a state examination, similar to a national test of jurisdiction in Republic of Korea, but he remained in the police as a rare case. He worked as the Chief of the Organized Crime Department of the Slovenian National Police Agency. Though he successfully led the investigation of the unsound tie between politics and business, in which the Slovenian Deputy Prime Minister and a large pharmaceutical company were involved in 1999, he had to suffer hardships due to a trial resulting from confrontation with a high ranking power group. From 2003 to 2011, he was Chairman of the Group of States against Corruption (GRECO), and currently, he is Co-Chair of the Defence Corruption Monitoring Committee (NAKO) in Ukraine.