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Former Saenuri deputy spokesman arrested for bribes

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Published : 2014-07-06 21:01
Updated : 2014-07-06 21:01

A Seoul court on Saturday issued an arrest warrant for Kwon Young-mo, a former deputy spokesman for the ruling Saenuri Party, on charges of taking kickbacks from a railroad parts supplier.

Kwon, 55, has been under investigation by prosecutors for receiving bribes worth some 100 million won from AVT, a railway parts importer and supplier, between 2010 and early 2014.

In addition, Kwon has been suspected of providing Kim Kwang-jae, former chairman and CEO of the Korea Rail Network Authority with 30 million won ($29,700) as part of lobbying activities for AVT. Kim was found dead in an apparent suicide on Friday.

For its issuance of his arrest warrant, the Seoul Central District Court cited the severity of the crime and the possibility of the suspect fleeing or attempting to destroy evidence.

Kwon has been taken into custody amid mounting allegations of corruption in the state railway industry, which could progress as a lobbying scandal involving political heavyweights.

The prosecution alleges that AVT exploited Kwon as a lobbying channel by giving the Saenuri official an adviser post though he is not specialized in the rail industry.

Kwon and ex-Korea Rail Network Authority chairman Kim both attended Yeungnam University.

Investigators said that AVT had enjoyed a monopolistic status in a variety of construction projects offered by KRNA since 2012. The company won bids including one for the second-stage construction of the Honam bullet train railroad.

“AVT offered about 2 million won to 4 million won to Kwon a month,” a prosecutor said. “He was also provided a corporate credit card and a premium sedan.”

Further, the rail parts supplier reportedly provided Kwon with money to cover his children’s school expenses totaling 57.5 million won.

The prosecution is widening the scope of its inquiry into the likelihood that more Saenuri officials or lawmakers could have been implicated in the unfair bidding incidents by exchanging kickbacks.

Kwon, who worked as the senior deputy spokesman for the governing party over the past three months, was stripped of his position in the party on July 3.

Police said it seems that Kim, 58, of KRNA jumped off a bridge into the Han River in Seoul. He was set to be summoned for questioning by the prosecution.

By Kim Yon-se (kys@heraldcorp.com)

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