Arrest warrant issued as Dangjin governor flees
After scheduling a news conference to deny the charges, Min Jong-kee tried twice within one hour to board a plane to China on Saturday, according to reports.
On Thursday, the Board of Audit and Inspection asked prosecutors in the Seosan branch of the Daejeon District Court to investigate whether Min, the 59-year-old head of the Dangjin county government in South Chungcheong province, received a house worth 300 million won ($271,665) from a builder in return for awarding multi-million-won construction projects.
The board announced its charges the next day and Min scheduled a news conference for Saturday, but he never appeared. Instead, prosecutors and airport officials said he tried to catch a plane to Qingdao from Incheon International Airport at about 11:30 a.m., but his passport raised suspicions because it looked as a new photo had been pasted in it. A female airport worker refused to let Min board, but did not notify police and he allegedly just walked away, leaving the forged passport behind.
At 12:30 Saturday, Min reportedly made another attempt to flee the country, this time using his own passport. Because Min’s name had been placed on a travel ban on Friday, when the charges were announced, immigration officials refused to let him board, but could not arrest him because a warrant had not been issued, reports said.
Min has not been seen since. His home and office were raided on Sunday, and on Monday his name was put on the wanted list for allegedly using a forged passport and an arrest warrant issued on charges of bribe-taking.
Investigators have spoken to Min’s family and friends, and prosecutors have urged them to contact him and persuade him to surrender himself voluntarily.
Sources have said the audit board found that Min had awarded seven construction projects, worth 10 billion won, to the builder from 2005 to 2008 in return for the bribes. In addition to Min, 10 others are being investigated by the prosecution after the audit board’s report.
Min was elected governor of Dangjin County in June 2004 as the candidate of the Uri Party, now the Democratic Party, through a by-election. In May 2006, he was reelected, but left the party in March 2008. In January of 2010, he joined the Grand National Party and won the candidacy under the ruling party’s ticket for the upcoming June election.
The Grand National Party canceled its decision on Friday, shortly after the audit board made public the corruption accusations.
By Ser Myo-ja [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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