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Military intelligence officers referred to prosecution for corruption

Five military intelligence officers were referred to the military prosecution for punishment on charges of paid sex, embezzlement and other wrongdoings that have been covered up for up to more than two years, the defense ministry said Tuesday.

The Defense Security Command officers got away with internal disciplinary measures, such as transfers to field units, without facing formal charges as their agency did not refer the cases for investigation over concern its image could be tarnished.

Four senior officials will be disciplined over the alleged cover-up, the ministry said.

Minister Kim Kwan-jin also issued a verbal warning to the DSC commander, Lt. Gen. Bae Dek-sig.

According to ministry investigators, a lieutenant colonel and a warrant officer were busted at a bar in June 2010 for allegedly paying for sex with hostesses. But they had their civilian friends lie to police and receive punishment on behalf of them.

The DSC later learned from an internal audit what had actually happened but closed the case only by transferring the officers involved to their original field units, citing that if the case is made public, it would sully the image of the top military intelligence agency.

A sergeant first class at a unit under the DSC also avoided formal charges after embezzling about 45 million won ($41,169) in official funds to repay his personal debt. The DSC did not refer the case for investigation, citing concern that the wrongdoer could attempt suicide.

In addition, a lieutenant colonel at another unit under the DSC was caught by police for drunk driving last month, but the DSC wrapped up the case only after relieving him of his post and then sending him back to his original unit at his request, according to the ministry.

The ministry referred all involved in paid sex, embezzlement and drunk driving to the military prosecution for punishment. Also referred to the prosecution was a command sergeant major who learned of the embezzlement but took no action against it, officials said. (Yonhap News)

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