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Ex-spy chief arrested on bribery charges

Former spy agency chief Won Sei-hoon was arrested on charges of taking bribes from a local construction company in exchange of business favors.

The Seoul Central District Court approved the prosecution’s request for an arrest warrant for Won, a close associate of former President Lee Myung-bak.

In a separate case, the former head of the National Intelligence Service was indicted last month on charges of masterminding an online smear campaign against opposition parties to sway public opinion ahead of presidential election late last year.

He is suspected of taking more than 100 million won ($88,150) in cash and expensive gifts from the former president of Hwangbo Construction for influence peddling.  Investigators believe that Won helped the businessman to win bids for major construction projects ordered by public offices.

The Seoul District Prosecutor’s Office looking into the case said it has obtained a list of gifts that appear to have delivered to Won while raiding the company’s old office in May.

Prosecutors also have secured relevant testimony from the businessman that he gave cash to Won with an expectation that he would help him win bids. The prosecution has already arrested the businessman on charges of embezzling about 2.3 billion won in company funds and fraudulently taking loans of about 4.3 billion won.

The businessman, Hwang Bo-yeon, former chief of now-bankrupt Hwangbo Construction, is said to have delivered a total of 150 million won since 2009 when Won took the top post at the spy agency.

Won is suspected of exercising his power to help Hwang win bids including basic construction ordered by Korea-Southern Power Co., a state-run power company and Homeplus, a supermarket chain.

Under the law, government officers found guilty of receiving bribes worth more than 100 million won in exchange for business favors could face at least 10 years in prison or even a life sentence.

 By Cho Chung-un





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