Busan bribery whistle-blower jailed

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Busan bribery whistle-blower jailed

The Busan District Court handed down a two-year sentence for fraud to a local construction company owner who has alleged that local prosecutors took bribes from him for more than 20 years.

The businessman, surnamed Jeong, was convicted of defrauding police officers and other business figures and was also fined 74 million won ($66,160). Jeong is the central figure in an ongoing investigation of bribery in Busan, after claiming he gave cash, gifts and sex worker services to dozens of prosecutors for more than two decades. Jeong’s charges were featured in the current affairs program “PD Diary” on MBC.

Jeong himself was tried for fraud and violation of the legal representation laws. According to the court, in early 2008, Jeong took 50 million won from a police officer in exchange for an offer to lobby for his promotion. In November of that year, Jeong received 18 million won from a local businessman to help cover up crimes by using his connections with prosecutors. At the end of his trial last Friday, the Busan District Prosecutors’ Office asked for a five-year prison term for Jeong.

Jeong was arrested in August last year but in September he was allowed to receive medical treatment from home. After he claimed to have bribed prosecutors last month, the Busan court detained him again.

“He tried to gain illegal profits by making fake offers of favors, and spent the money he took for personal use,” the ruling read.

In July 2008, Jeong was indicted for fraud and received a two-year suspended jail sentence. The Busan court yesterday noted Jeong committed more crimes during the period of his suspended sentence and added, “He showed no remorse and didn’t reach any settlement with the victims.”

Investigators in Seoul and Busan continued their questioning of prosecutors Jeong claimed to have bribed. The special investigation team summoned some of them on Monday and again yesterday. According to the investigators, Jeong has revealed the identities of active prosecutors he bribed and provided information on where prosecutors were entertained and how much money was spent.

By Yoo Jee-ho [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]

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