Corruption Investigation Office
for High-ranking Public Officials
On July 15, 2020, the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Public Officials (“CIO”) was established as an independent law enforcement agency focused on investigating crimes committed by high-ranking public officials or their family members (“HRPOs”). HRPOs include public officials such as the President, members of the National Assembly, judges, prosecutors, senior public officials of Grade III or higher rank, and police officers holding position as superintendent general or above. The CIO consists of 25 prosecutors, 40 investigators, and 20 administrators including one Director General and one Deputy-Director General. To balance functions with respect to prosecution and investigation, the investigation department and the prosecution department are separately organized within the CIO.

The CIO is tasked with investigating crimes committed in connection with HRPOs’ public duties, the scope of which can include investigation of non-public officials suspected of being implicated in HRPOs’ misconduct. Other agencies must immediately inform the CIO upon learning about HRPOs’ crimes during investigations. Along with its investigative powers, the CIO has a limited authority to indict judges, prosecutors, or police officers holding position as superintendent general. Because the CIO’s investigative powers supersede those of other law enforcement agencies, the CIO is expected to take a leading role in the investigation of crimes committed by HRPOs.

With the inauguration of Mr. Jinwook Kim as the first Director-General of the CIO on January 21, 2021, investigations by the CIO are expected to commence this year.
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