National Assembly to launch annual audit of gov’t agencies

SEOUL-- The National Assembly is scheduled to kick off its annual audit of government agencies this week, officials said Sunday, with a row over corruption scandals involving the justice minister's family likely to come under scrutiny.

This year's audit of more than 700 government organizations will start on Wednesday and run until Oct. 21.

The House Steering Committee will examine the performance of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Nov. 1. The Intelligence Committee will audit the National Intelligence Service, South Korea's spy agency, on Nov. 4.

The monthslong controversy over Justice Minister Cho Kuk is likely to come under the spotlight during the upcoming audit sessions.

Cho, who was appointed on Sept. 9, has been at the center of heightened political tensions as prosecutors look into allegations of corruption involving his family, including his wife's alleged forgery of a school award.

Allegations of abuse of power were raised by opposition lawmakers after Cho revealed Thursday that he spoke by telephone with a chief prosecutor who was on the scene of a raid on Cho's residence earlier this week.

The minister rebutted claims that he sought to influence the investigation, saying that he asked for the raid to be conducted swiftly in consideration of the health of his wife.

Conservative opposition parties warned they would push for a parliamentary impeachment of Cho for obstruction of justice.

The ruling Democratic Party (DP) raised suspicions that the prosecution leaked details of its investigation to the press and the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP).

The governing party has defended Cho as a suitable figure to carry out President Moon Jae-in's vision of reforming the prosecution.

During the audit sessions, the DP is expected to stress the need for legislative efforts to improve people's livelihoods, as related bills have been pending for months due to partisan wrangling.

In the foreign and security affairs-related committees, rival parties are expected to clash over Moon's peace efforts with North Korea and the prospect for working-level nuclear talks between the United States and the North.

Seoul's spy agency recently raised the possibility that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may visit South Korea in November as an observer for a special ASEAN summit, depending on progress in denuclearization talks with Washington.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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