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Chief prosecutor nominee denies evading tax, military duty

Chief prosecutor nominee Han Sang-dae was grilled by lawmakers on Thursday concerning allegations that he evaded military service, dodged taxes through a false contract and registered a false address, most of which he denied.

Han was judged fit to join the army in 1980 during his junior year in university, but was exempted after passing the state bar exam and undergoing a lumbar disc operation in the following year.

“I tried every non-surgical cure possible, none of which had an effect, and the operation was my last resort back then,” Han said, in response to opposition lawmakers’ questions.

Han also answered questions on the suspicion that he drew up a false contract to evade taxes.

“The site that I sold back in 2006 was sold for less than a third of the publicly announced price because it had long been neglected and lost its original value,” he said.

The nominee was also suspected of making illicit profits by purchasing unlisted stocks of his friend’s company at a low price and reselling them.

“I bought the corresponding stocks for 20 million won and resold them at the same price years later,” Han said.

“It is just that the company recorded the original price as 5 million for its accounting convenience.”

Han, however, offered his apologies for registering a false address in order to allow his two daughters attend the school they wanted.

“I am deeply sorry that I made a wrong judgment out of my concerns for my children,” he said.

The nominee, who currently chairs the Seoul Central Prosecutor’s Office, also pledged to bring about the necessary changes to the prosecution.

“I feel deeply responsible for the circumstances which our organization now faces,” Han said.

“The public is still asking the prosecution to change and renew itself, refusing to give its trust.”

The nominee vowed to maintain the political neutrality of the organization and regain the public trust should he be confirmed as chief prosecutor.

Despite his determination to bring changes, however, Han denied the need to close down the central investigation department, the prosecution’s key unit.

“It is still premature to discuss abolishing the CID, at least until the country’s corruption level drops further,” he said.

“It would be more effective to reinforce the organ’s political neutrality and independence through other methods.”

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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