Baseball club admits to giving money to umpire in snowballing scandal

By Yonhap
  • Published : Aug 31, 2017 - 16:36
  • Updated : Aug 31, 2017 - 16:36

A fourth baseball club admitted to giving money to an umpire in a rapidly-snowballing scandal on Thursday.

The Nexen Heroes in the Korea Baseball Organization issued an apology, saying one of its former executives wired 3 million won ($2,670) to the then umpire surnamed Choi on Nov. 22, 2013, after Choi had contacted him for cash.

"We'll accept any punishment that comes our way," the Seoul-based club said. "We'll cooperate with any future investigation by prosecutors."

Financial transactions of any kind between umpires and club employees are strictly prohibited.

The Heroes previously denied any transaction between the club and Choi, who retired in 2014. The Heroes said Choi had indeed approached them for cash but they never paid him.
This file photo taken on April 2, 2017, shows Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, home of the Nexen Heroes in the Korea Baseball Organization, as they host the LG Twins. (Yonhap)

But on Tuesday, Heroes' owner Lee Chang-suk was summoned by prosecutors for questioning in connection with the scandal. Even after the word got out on Lee's summon, the Heroes stayed mum.

The Heroes apologized for causing confusion, saying their internal investigation into the situation wasn't up to par.

They join the Doosan Bears, Kia Tigers and Samsung Lions as four of 10 KBO clubs to have acknowledged giving money to Choi.

When media reports first began alleging illicit transactions between Choi and KBO clubs last year, the league office conducted its own investigation into the matter. At the time, the Heroes, the Tigers and the Lions all said they never had any dealings with Choi. The Bears admitted to their wrongdoing, but the case didn't become publicly known until July this year because the KBO didn't make any announcement. Bears' president Kim Seung-young resigned in the aftermath in July.

Prosecutors are seeking an arrest warrant for Choi on charges of fraud and habitual gambling. According to the prosecutors, Choi borrowed some 30 million won from baseball officials and his friends without paying them back. (Yonhap)