This photo, taken March 29, 2021, shows a senior official (C) of the Pocheon municipal government leaving the Uijeongbu District Court after questioning on his potential arrest. (Yonhap)
A senior official of the Pocheon municipal government has been indicted on charges of land speculation, in a first for a government task force investigating speculative behavior by public officials, prosecutors said Monday.
The Uijeongbu District Prosecutors Office indicted the 52-year-old official, surnamed Park, on Friday for allegedly using information he gained at work to purchase land near the site of a planned train station in September.
Park, who was in charge of railway planning for the city 46 kilometers north of Seoul from 2018-2019, bought the land with his wife for 4 billion won ($3.6 million), according to prosecutors. The land is currently reported to be worth some 10 billion won.
"Through a re-analysis of seized materials, we were able to find that Park personally briefed outside experts on the railway route and the location of the new station," the prosecution said.
The local official has denied he knew the exact location of the planned station at the time of his purchase, and claimed that plans for its construction had yet to be finalized.
The purchased land has been frozen under a court order and will be forfeited if Park is convicted.
Park is the first person to be indicted in an ongoing special investigation led by the police since early last month.
The government probe was launched in the wake of a massive land speculation scandal at the state housing developer, Korea Land and Housing Corp. (LH). It has been looking into hundreds of cases involving public officials and several National Assembly members. (Yonhap)