The Korea Herald


Probe finds additional W582.4b illegally used for renewable energy under Moon govt.

By Yonhap

Published : July 3, 2023 - 09:40

    • Link copied

Park Ku-yeon, the first deputy chief of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, speaks during a press briefing on Monday. (Yonhap) Park Ku-yeon, the first deputy chief of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, speaks during a press briefing on Monday. (Yonhap)

Government funds amounting to 582.4 billion won ($442.2 million) were additionally found to have been illegally or wrongfully used in renewable energy projects, including the installation of solar panels, during the previous Moon Jae-in administration, officials said Monday.

The Office for Government Policy Coordination under the Prime Minister's Office announced that a nationwide investigation has identified an additional 5,359 cases of irregularities in the spending of government energy funds between 2019 and 2021.

The office has set up a task force to look into corruption allegations surrounding the spending of subsidies as part of the promotion of renewable energy, which was one of the key agenda items of the Moon administration.

The extensive investigation came after a previous sample investigation, which was limited to a specific region, and announced last September. At the time, 2,267 illegal fund management cases across 12 local governments were found, amounting to 261.6 billion won in misused government funds.

The results of both investigations showed that 7,626 irregularities over the entire five-year period of the previous administration had resulted in 844 billion won of government funds being illegally or wrongfully used.

Park Ku-yeon, the first deputy chief of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, pointed out insufficient checks on fund management, despite nearly 12 trillion won being invested in related projects between 2018 and 2022.

The extensive investigation also examined major energy-related government agencies, with most cases related to illegal loan execution, unlawful subsidy allocation and lax management of R&D projects.

Notably, the office reported that 489.8 billion won of government funds were illegally loaned to solar energy projects through fake tax invoices and other methods from 2019 to 2021.

Park highlighted the case of using two different tax invoices for obtaining loans and paying taxes, calling it a "highly malicious act."

Additionally, some cases involved illegal loans extended to deploy solar energy panels on agricultural land hosting mushroom or insect breeding facilities, which can be built without converting farmland for other uses.

The outcome also revealed that 26.6 billion won was unfairly used in 172 R&D projects in the energy sector between 2018 and 2022, utilizing various methods.

The government said it has sought a redemption of 40.4 billion won and investigations into 626 cases. Government officials allegedly involved in 85 cases will face reprimand.

The government will also push forward retrieving illegally extended loans by working with financial authorities, and further come up with measures to prevent similar cases.

Earlier, President Yoon Suk Yeol ordered the office of the presidential secretary for civil service discipline to carry out a thorough investigation into the decision-makers behind allegedly corrupt solar energy projects pursued under the previous administration.

Park, however, emphasized that the task force's investigation was carried out in a pan-government manner and emphasized the need to continue the solar panel projects to address the challenges posed by climate change. (Yonhap)