To effectively respond to environmental crimes, a joint investigation team (the “Joint Investigation Team for Environmental Crimes”) was established at the Uijeongbu District Prosecutors’ Office (the “UDPO”) on November 14, 2022. The newly launched team consists of experts from both national and local governments, including the Prosecutors’ Office (the “PO”), the Ministry of Environment (the “MOE”), the Han River Basin Environmental Office, and the Special Judicial Police for People’s Livelihood in the Gyeonggi Province.
Since the UDPO was designated as the PO for environmental crime investigation in April 2018, it has supervised the special judicial police specializing in environmental crimes. With the launch of the Joint Investigation Team for Environmental Crimes, the UDPO plans to take strict measures against large-scale environmental crimes and actively respond to new types of the environmental crimes arising from continuously changing environmental policies and systems.
In particular, the UDPO indicated that it will operate the Joint Investigation Team for Environmental Crimes, focusing on the following points:
1. Enhancing Investigation Capabilities for Environmental Crimes
The prosecutors and the special judicial police from the Joint Investigation Team for Environmental Crimes will:
Promptly investigate from the beginning of the investigation under a close command system;
Actively respond to environmental crimes by, among other measures, shortening the warrant processing period and providing forensic investigation experts; and
Provide additional investigation workforce to crime scenes in other regions by forming an environmental investigation support team, consisting of special judicial police officers within the Joint Investigation Team for Environmental Crimes.
2. Recapturing Criminal Proceeds Generated from Environmental Crimes
From the initiation stage of the investigation, the UDPO will thoroughly identify criminal proceeds generated from the environmental crime and take measures to recapture the criminal proceeds, thereby discouraging the environmental crime motivated by economic benefits.
3. Providing Prompt Assistance to Administrative Actions
Pursuant to the Act on Control and Aggravated Punishment of Environmental Offenses, for certain types of environmental crimes, the Minister of Environment may impose clean-up costs as well as an administrative fine in an amount not exceeding 5% of the sales of a place of business at issue. In this regard, the Joint Investigation Team for Environmental Crimes will share the investigation results with the MOE and local governments to expedite the process to impose the above administrative fine or take other administrative measures for violations of environmental laws and regulations.
With the establishment of the Joint Investigation Team for Environmental Crimes, we expect that the procedures of investigation and administrative dispositions for environmental crimes will be strengthened. Therefore, we advise companies to continue to check their status of compliance with applicable environmental laws and make necessary improvements.