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Sports ministry discovers budget misuse at football governing body

South Korea's sports ministry on Wednesday said it has asked local law enforcement to investigate former and current employees of the national football governing body for apparently misusing the organization's budget.

   The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism said that its sports corruption center found that 23 former and active workers at the Korea Football Association (KFA) exploited their group's money for private use. Following its probe, the ministry asked the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC) to mete out punishment on the KFA and for police to investigate the employees.

   The ministry said Cho Chung-yun, former president of the KFA, brought his wife on three business trips between July 2011 and May 2012, and used 30 million won (US$25,670) of the KFA's money to cover her travel expenses. The ministry added that Cho, who served in the top post from 2009 to 2013, later had an advisory role with the KFA, and the football organization still paid him 144 million won for 17 months though he didn't do any work.

   Eighteen former and current KFA employees used corporate cards at places like karaoke bars, massage shops, skin care shops and golf clubs for private purpose, wasting 200 million won from the organization's budget, the ministry said.

   The ministry also found that the KFA had a "special hiring" for six employees behind closed doors, although its rules state that workers should be hired through an open recruitment system.

   The ministry said that it has requested the KFA to prepare measures to prevent such wrongdoings in the future, and recover all the misused money from the employees.

   The KFA said it has already been carrying out cleanup measures since the ministry started its audit in March.

   "We've already been working on correcting wrongdoings," a KFA official said. "Since Chung Mong-gyu was re-elected the KFA chief in July, we're close to forming a new executive department. Cho's advisory position will be terminated once it's done." (Yonhap)