Published : 2013-09-03 15:50
Updated : 2013-09-03 15:50
A former top tax official accused of taking bribes from food and entertainment conglomerate CJ Group while in office in 2006 admitted to the charges at a court hearing Tuesday.
Jeon Goon-pyo, 59, allegedly accepted US$300,000 in U.S. bills from CJ Group officials in exchange for favors during a tax audit into the conglomerate in July 2006, shortly after he was named the commissioner of the National Tax Service (NTS), prosecutors said.
Jeon is further accused of taking a high-end watch worth 35 million won from CJ Chairman Lee Jay-hyun as an inauguration gift at a Seoul hotel in October 2006, they added.
On the first trial at the Seoul Central District Court, a lawyer representing the disgraced former NTS commissioner said that the defendant "admits to most of the charges against him."
The remarks are largely seen as a legal maneuver to get a lighter jail sentence by admitting to accepting the kickbacks from CJ Group while denying they were in exchange for any favors, according to legal experts.
A bribery scandal involving former top tax officials came into light after chairman Lee was indicted for embezzlement and offshore tax evasion charges in a separate corruption case last month.
During the audit into CJ Group in 2006, tax authorities obtained evidence that the group and its chairman allegedly dodged some 356 billion won in corporate and income taxes. However, the NTS neither collected nor levied any fines on the family-run conglomerate.
The prosecution office suspects that CJ Group and Lee illegally lobbied the former NTS officials so that the conglomerate could reduce its tax burden or even avoid paying the massive amount of taxes altogether.
A second trial for Jeon is due on Sept. 23, court officials said. (Yonhap News)