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Ranking Navy officer arrested in corruption scandal

A senior South Korean Navy official was arrested Friday in a widening probe into alleged corruption in connection with the country's arms procurement projects.

A military court issued an arrest warrant for the officer with the rank of rear admiral, only identified by his family name Park.

He is charged with pressing his subordinates in 2012 to doctor a report on the operational capability of the AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcat, a multi-mission maritime helicopter.

It participated in South Korea's naval chopper purchase program, worth about 1.3 trillion won (US$ 1.1 billion), and won the bidding at that time. Park was in charge of the Navy's budget and acquisition.

He has become the first sitting general-level official to be arrested since the launch in November 2014 of a pan-governmental investigation team on corruption apparently prevalent among the nation's arms procurement officials.

Several other current and former naval officers were earlier indicted for their involvement in the forgery of the relevant documents.

The Navy has already come under fire over a string of bribery scandals.

Chung Ok-geun, who served as Navy chief of staff from 2008-2010, was arrested in January on charges of receiving more than 700 million won from local defense firms.

In March, former Chief of Naval Operations Hwang Ki-chul was arrested for allegedly peddling influence to help a firm win a deal to supply parts of the 3,500-ton salvage ship Tongyeong. (Yonhap)

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