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Former spy chief to stand trial over graft charges

A detained former intelligence chief has been indicted on charges of accepting kickbacks, including cash and gifts such as expensive jewelry, from a construction company, prosecutors said Friday.

Won Sei-hoon, who served as the National Intelligence Service (NIS) chief under then-President Lee Myung-bak until early this year, is suspected of receiving some 170 million won (US$153,000) in bribes from a former head of now-bankrupt Hwangbo Construction since 2009, they said.

In return, Hwang Bo-yeon, the former Hwangbo chief, allegedly asked Won to help the company clinch major construction deals from public institutions and large corporations.

"The fact that (Won) was asked for a favor has been confirmed through evidence," a prosecutor of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office said, refusing to disclose further details about whether the former NIS chief actually peddled his influence.

The 62-year-old Won has been detained since July 10 after a Seoul court approved the prosecution's request for an arrest warrant for the disgraced ex-spymaster, who is also standing trial on charges of meddling in last year's presidential election.

Won is the first aide of former President Lee to be charged with corruption charges since President Park Geun-hye took office in February.

In a separate case, Won was indicted last month on charges of ordering some of his agents to use the Internet to sway public opinion in favor of President Park Geun-hye, the then ruling party candidate, ahead of December's presidential election.

Won served as first vice mayor of Seoul when former President Lee was the mayor. He played a leading role in Lee's major projects such as the restoration of the Cheonggye Stream in downtown Seoul, the redevelopment of run-down residential areas and the restructuring of the public transportation system.

Won was also the minister of public administration and security under the Lee administration. (Yonhap News)