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Ex-minister denies bribery accusation

Former Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-hyung on Wednesday denied a report that he received money from a savings bank chief arrested in May for embezzlement and illegal loans.

The Chosun Ilbo reported that the prosecutor’s office has secured testimony from Lim Suk, chairman of Solomon Savings Bank, that he bribed Yoon to save his ailing company from suspension.

Yoon admitted that he met with Lim but denied taking bribes. The prosecutors also said they have yet to find evidence of wrongdoing.

“I met with him as chief of the savings bank and was told about his difficulties. That’s it. There was no money given and taken,” he said.

The report said Lim lobbied Yoon on two occasions before the government announced the lists of savings banks subject to business suspension in the second half of last year and last month.

Yoon served as finance minister from February 2009 to June 2011.

Lim’s company and three other savings banks ― Mirae, Hankuk and Hanju ― were ordered to halt operations in May. The heads of the four banks had embezzled almost 120 billion won ($1 million) and issued over 1 trillion won in illegal loans, the prosecutors said last week

The prosecutors also denied they have secured any specific testimony or evidence of Yoon’s alleged wrongdoings.

Lim was indicted on June 1 for embezzling 17 billion won and arranging illegal loans of 150 billion won that caused financial damage to the bank.

Lim acquired the savings bank, known as Gold Savings Bank, in 2002 and grew it into the industry’s largest operation through a series of mergers and acquisitions.

Earlier last year nine ailing savings banks including Busan and Samhwa were suspended of their operation as they failed to meet regulatory capital requirements. In September seven other savings banks including Ace and Prime were suspended.

Their Bank for International Settlements ratio, an indication of solvency, was below 5 percent, a level considered to put them in danger of business suspension. 

By Kim Young-won (wone0102@heraldcorp.com)
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