SEOUL, South Korea – Hwang Woo-suk, the disgraced South Korean cloning scientist accused of faking his research results, may also have misspent government funds, South Korea's state auditor said Monday.
The Board of Audit and Inspection said it would refer its findings from a three-week probe into Hwang's use of government and private funds to prosecutors, who are conducting a broad investigation into the scandal.
Through last year, Hwang received $31.8 million in government funds for his research as well as $6.2 million from private donations, the board said. It was unable to account for $2.6 million of those funds.
Separately, Hwang was also found to have personally received an additional $3.5 million in unaccounted for private donations, the auditor said.
"The government and companies provided professor Hwang Woo-suk with a lot of research funds," the board said in a statement. "But professor Hwang didn't follow appropriate accounting procedures."
Hwang, once hailed as a national hero and pioneer in the field of embryonic stem cells — which scientists hope will help treat diseases such as Alzheimer's and diabetes — was found last month to have fabricated landmark papers published in the international journal Science, according to a Seoul National University investigation.
Hwang has accused colleagues of deceiving him about results of his team's experiments, and also has alleged that some of the cloned embryonic stem cells at his lab had been switched without his knowledge.
Prosecutors have been looking into the scandal, raiding homes and offices of Hwang and his former co-workers and questioning them. Prosecutors have not yet said when they will question Hwang himself.
Last month, a presidential aide resigned over the scandal.
Park Ky-young, presidential secretary for science and technology affairs, was one of the co-authors of Hwang's 2004 paper where he claimed to create the world's first cloned human embryo and cull stem cells from it.
Park has been plagued by revelations that she received funds from Hwang when she was a biology professor. She acknowledged accepting $255,000 from Hwang, but claimed the money was purely for research purposes.