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[Newsmaker] Political heavyweight stripped of parliamentary seat after top court confirms jail sentence

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a lower court ruling ordering a jail term for a four-term opposition lawmaker, stripping him of his parliamentary seat.

The top court sentenced Rep. Choi Kyung-hwan of the main opposition Liberty Korea Party to five years in prison for taking bribes worth some 100 million won ($84,990). He was also ordered to pay 150 million won in fines.


Under the law, an elected official loses his or her post if sentenced to imprisonment without forced labor for criminal cases.

Choi was convicted of taking bribes from the spy agency in the name of special activity funds when he served as the finance minister in 2014.

He worked as finance minister of the then-conservative government led by President Park Geun-hye. He was one of Park's closest aides.

Lee Byung-kee, then-chief of the National Intelligence Service (NIS), instructed his aide to deliver the funds as a token expressing his thanks for Choi's role in massively raising the budget for the spy agency.

Lower courts said the charges warranted heavy punishment as his taking bribes damaged public confidence about the past of a finance minister and as a massive amount of state funds was misused. (Yonhap)