The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's Working Group on Bribery has voiced "serious concerns" that the recently enacted prosecution reform laws could hamper the country's capacity to investigate and prosecute foreign bribery.
The Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions, tasked with monitoring the implementation of the OECD Anti-Bribery Convention and other instruments, voiced the opinion in a statement Wednesday after adopting it during a regular meeting last week.
It is in response to the South Korean National Assembly's revisions in April and May of the Prosecutors' Office Act and the Criminal Procedure Act that reduce and ultimately abolish the investigative powers of the prosecution, long accused of abuse of power and political meddling.
The revisions, set to take effect in September, limit the prosecution's investigative powers to only two crime types -- corruption and economic crimes -- from the current six before removing them completely.
"The amendments seriously hamper the prosecution's ability to investigate and prosecute foreign bribery offences," the statement said.
"The working group is of the firm view that Korea should ensure that its criminal law enforcement authorities -- both the prosecution and the police -- continue to have at their disposal the appropriate powers to effectively enforce the foreign bribery offence," it said.
The working group also "welcomed" the Justice Ministry and the prosecution's recent filing of a constitutional petition against the reform laws.
"The group will insist on developments that would preserve Korea's ability to investigate and prosecute foreign bribery cases and ensure that concerns of a political nature do not affect such investigations and prosecutions," it added. (Yonhap)