The Korea Herald


Kangwon Land employees report former head Ham Seung-hee to prosecution

By Claire Lee

Published : Aug. 30, 2018 - 16:10

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Unionized employees of Kangwon Land, a Gangwon Province-based, state-owned casino, reported their former head Ham Seung-hee over corruption allegations Thursday, after a lawmaker accused him of having spent some 70 million won ($63,000) worth of company funds for personal use while in office.

Ham, once a celebrated prosecutor and lawmaker, served as the head of the country’s largest casino from 2014 to 2017. According to Rep. Song Ki-hun of the ruling Democratic Party, the 67-year-old is suspected of having charged some 70 million won of spending to the casino’s corporate credit cards.

The lawmaker said that Ham used the corporate credit cards 636 times from 2014-2017. Among the transactions, 314 were made at businesses that were minutes away from a residential property in Seoul’s Seorae Village in southern Seoul.

South Korea`s state-owned casino Kangwon Land, which is the biggest casino in the country. (Yonhap) South Korea`s state-owned casino Kangwon Land, which is the biggest casino in the country. (Yonhap)

According to Song, the residence in Seorae Village is the home of a woman in her 30s, who worked at a think tank founded by Ham. The former Kangwon Land head is suspected of having an affair with the woman.

Locations where Ham’s credit cards were used included luxury hotels, high-end department stores and restaurants. He also used the cards to buy swimsuits, toothbrushes and snacks, according to Rep. Song’s office.

“We want the truth to be revealed on every single corruption allegation made against Ham,” the union members said in a statement. “So that we can prevent such a case from recurring in the future.”

Ham is not the first chief of Kangwon Land to be embroiled in a corruption scandal. 

Choi Heung-jip, who headed the casino from 2011 to 2014, was arrested last year on charges of influence peddling while in office.

According to authorities, he illicitly hired the adult children of powerful figures in the country, including lawmakers, to work for the casino, instead of other job candidates. Among the 518 newly hired employees from 2012-2013, 493 of them were hired through personal connections, not based on their qualifications.

Upon Choi’s arrest last year, Ham had said that he had “taken strict measures against corruption, adopting a zero tolerance policy at the state-run casino.”