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Task force seeks warrant to arrest ex-senior official over alleged land speculation

A former chief of the National Agency for Administrative City Construction leaves a police building in Seoul on April 23, 2021, after undergoing questioning over allegations of land speculation. (Yonhap)
A former chief of the National Agency for Administrative City Construction leaves a police building in Seoul on April 23, 2021, after undergoing questioning over allegations of land speculation. (Yonhap)
A government task force said Monday it has sought a warrant for the arrest of a retired senior government official who is suspected of land speculation.

Nam Gu-jun, the task force chief, told reporters the request was sent to the prosecution on Friday as part of his team's ongoing probe into allegations of property speculation by public officials.

"We decided this is a case that calls for a warrant. We'll have to wait for the decision of the prosecution and the court," Nam, who is also chief of the police's national investigation office, said.

The suspect is a former head of the National Agency for Administrative City Construction, a state body in charge of building the administrative city of Sejong, 120 kilometers south of Seoul.

While in office, he allegedly bought a piece of land in the city in April 2017 under his wife's name. The price of land reportedly jumped from 107,000 won ($95) per square meter in January 2017 to 154,000 won three years later.

After retiring, the suspect bought more land in November 2017 close to the site of a planned industrial complex.

The police-led task force was launched in March in the wake of a massive land speculation scandal centered on the state housing developer, Korea Land and Housing Corp. (LH).

It has since investigated 2,006 people in 490 cases and transferred 199 suspects to the prosecution, according to a task force official.

The vast majority of the initial suspects, or 1,609, were ordinary citizens, while 147 were local public servants, 78 state public servants, 60 LH officials, 48 local council members, 11 local government chiefs, five National Assembly members and four high-ranking government officials.

A total of 11 people have been placed under arrest, and investigation is currently under way into 1,678 others. (Yonhap)

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