|Korail CEO Oh Young-sik|
By Park Jae-hyuk
Korail has been grappling with growing allegations that it has forced its employees to pay money to sponsor certain lawmakers, according to company employees Friday.
The Political Fund Law prohibits employers from asking their employees for donations to politicians.
The National Election Commission said it will investigate this matter to check whether the rumor is true.
A user of Blind, an anonymous chat app for verified employees, wrote on the app last month that a public corporation has forced its employees to raise funds to sponsor lawmakers.
"To flatter lawmakers belonging to a standing committee that supervises my company, my employer ordered each department to send money to each lawmaker via private accounts without the name of the company," the user who claimed to be a Korail employee said.
Korail, a state-run railway operator, is subject to a National Assembly audit by lawmakers belonging to the standing committee of land, infrastructure and transport. The lawmakers are also authorized to draw up budgets for Korail.
Right after the revelation, Korail had denied the claim, emphasizing the company's incorruptibility.
The Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission selected Korail in February as an excellent public corporation in terms of incorruptibility. Back then, Korail CEO Oh Young-sik said the achievement resulted from the efforts of Korail employees, adding the employees will continue to do their best to lead other public corporations to fight against corruption.
However, Korail changed its attitude after disclosure of an email it sent to its employees.
According to KBS, the railway operator explained the method of payment in detail. Each department was assigned to give money to each lawmaker of the standing committee and was ordered to report the results of sponsorship.
The local news outlet reported Korail sent three emails regarding this matter within one month.
Korail said it will discover whether the rumor is true, after carrying out an internal inspection.
The recent scandal is expected to weigh on Oh, who is waiting for his first National Assembly audit next month, after his inauguration in February.
Before his inauguration, the former lawmaker also drew criticism from those who raised questions about his qualifications.
If the rumor turns out to be true, the chief executive will likely face fiercer criticism against his leadership and morality.
In 2009, K-water was embroiled in a similar controversy, as governmental agency for comprehensive water resource development allegedly urged each of its employees to give 100,000 won ($89) to lawmakers who supervise it.