South Korean baseball club Nexen Heroes admitted Monday to receiving illegal cash in player transactions last year, confirming long-held suspicions that the financially-strapped team had been dumping players for money.
|Ko Hyung-wook, general manager of the Seoul-based Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club Nexen Heroes. Yonhap|
Ko Hyung-wook, general manager of the Seoul-based Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) club, acknowledged that his club had received cash from the NC Dinos and the KT Wiz in separate trades in March and July last year. Ko had denied charges of taking money for players at the time of those deals.
Ko made the admission after a news report earlier in the day published the Heroes' internal documents detailing the illicit transactions. The documents showed that in March 2017, the Heroes received 100 million won (US$93,140) from the Dinos when they sent left-hander Kang Yoon-goo in exchange for right-hander Kim Han-byeol. Then in July that same year, the Heroes sent infielder Yoon Suk-min to the Wiz for pitchers Chung Dae-hyun and Seo Eui-tae and 500 million won in cash.
While trading players for cash considerations isn't banned by the KBO, the three clubs involved never reported the money changing hands to the league office when they submitted the deals for approval.
The Heroes, which joined the KBO in 2008 in place of the bankrupt Hyundai Unicorns, have been in a financial bind for the majority of their existence. In 2008, their proposed deal for a pitcher and 3 billion won in cash with the Samsung Lions was rejected by the KBO.
The internal documents also showed that from the 600 million won received in the two trades, Ko and the team owner Lee Chang-suk each received 3 million won in incentives.
"It's true that some cash was involved in trades with KT and NC last year," Ko told Yonhap News Agency. "But I didn't receive any money from the team in relation to these transactions."
Also last year, the Heroes made a trade with the SK Wyverns in May and then the Kia Tigers two months later, but Ko insisted those deals didn't involve any cash.
The KBO said it has asked the Heroes, the Wiz and the Dinos to send reports on the illegal trades.
"These trades will be subject to disciplinary proceedings," a KBO official said. "In addition to Nexen, KT and NC will also face punishments. And Ko, who at first denied charges of taking cash, could also be subject to penalties."
This revelation is the latest black eye for the Heroes. Lee Chang-suk, their owner, was convicted of embezzlement in February this year. Then last week, sexual assault allegations emerged against starting catcher Park Dong-won and closer Cho Sang-woo.
They were questioned by police earlier Monday. (Yonhap)