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Ex-arms acquisition chief grilled

Prosecutors on Friday questioned the former state arms acquisition chief over his alleged involvement in two separate bribery scandals.

Appearing at the Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors’ Office in the morning, Chang Soo-man, former commissioner of the Defense Acquisition Program Agency, looked dismal, refusing to answer questions from a throng of journalists waiting at the office.

Chang, who offered to resign Wednesday, is suspected of receiving gift certificates worth about 10 million won ($8,989) from Daewoo Engineering & Constriction Co. president Seo Jong-wook.
GRA FT SCANDAL — Chang Soo-man, former commissioner of the Defense Acquisition Program Agency, appears at the Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors’ Office on Friday for questioning over suspicions that he accepted bribes from Daewoo Engineeringand Construction in exchange for business favors.(Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)
GRA FT SCANDAL — Chang Soo-man, former commissioner of the Defense Acquisition Program Agency, appears at the Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors’ Office on Friday for questioning over suspicions that he accepted bribes from Daewoo Engineeringand Construction in exchange for business favors.(Kim Myung-sub/The Korea Herald)

Investigators suspect that he received the gift certificates last September in return for helping the construction firm win a military construction contract worth 387.3 billion won last April.

The contract entitled Daewoo E&C to lead the construction project concerning the relocation of the Special Warfare Command and the third Special Forces Airborne Brigade. At the time, Chang served as vice defense minister.

Chang is also alleged to have taken tens of millions of won from Yu Sang-bong, a 64-year-old broker who allegedly bribed dozens of people to secure lucrative catering contracts at construction sites. Chang denies the allegations.

After winning the contracts to run the canteens, Yu sold them to catering firms for a substantial profit. Yu was arrested in November 2010 and indicted in December on bribery charges.

He purportedly bribed dozens of people, including former and incumbent high-ranking government officials, provincial chiefs, public corporation heads and construction firm owners.

Former National Police Agency chief Kang Hee-rak was indicted Tuesday on charges that he received some 190 million won from Yu from April 2009-December 2009. On the same day, Kangwon Land CEO Choi Young was arrested on suspicion of receiving some 60 million won from Yu between 2007 and 2009.

Chang’s alleged involvement in the two scandals has tarnished his reputation as a strong military reformer. Along with Kang Man-soo, special presidential secretary for economic affairs, Chang has also been regarded as one of the architects of the president’s economic policy, which prioritizes growth, deregulation and market opening.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)
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