The Board of Audit and Inspection questioned Hwang Woo-suk yesterday over evidence of suspicious spending of research funds, including state financing. The board launched its investigation Jan. 16 when a Seoul National University review panel said Dr. Hwang’s stem cell cloning research contained fabricated data.
“We found some suspicious spending after auditing the accounts of the university, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Korea Science and Engineering Foundation,¡± an audit board source said.
The board found that Dr. Hwang deposited 1.9 billion won ($1.96 million) from funds raised by private donations to the science foundation into a personal account. The source said Dr. Hwang spent 1.6 billion won between October and December last year, and the board was investigating if this was used solely for research. He added that Dr. Hwang made contributions to some politicians at the end of 2005.
This led the body to suspect Dr. Hwang of spending the money for private purposes and not research. Dr. Hwang is also suspected of using 150 million won in interest on the donations, the source said, noting that Dr. Hwang can be accused of embezzling because he kept the money in a private account. While private donations were managed personally by Dr. Hwang, research funds provided by the state from 1995 to 2005, totaling 41.7 billion won, were managed by Seoul National University.
The audit board said it will continue investigating Dr. Hwang and inform the prosecution of its findings around Feb. 10.