Coast Guard, cop chiefs probed in cafeteria racket

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Coast Guard, cop chiefs probed in cafeteria racket

Prosecutors banned former National Police Agency Commissioner Kang Hee-rak and former Korea Coast Guard Commissioner Lee Gil-beom from traveling abroad while they are investigated for allegedly taking bribes from a businessman while in office.

The travel bans follow an investigation into several major construction companies whose senior executives were indicted for allegedly taking bribes from a businessman surnamed Yu and then hiring him to run makeshift worker cafeterias at construction sites. Yu was indicted in November.

According to prosecutors at the Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors’ Office, both Kang and Lee were banned from oversea trips on Dec. 24. Prosecutors say that Yu admitted to giving Kang 100 million won ($89,365) to promote police officers who helped him win cafeteria contracts at construction sites. “It seems as Yu and Kang have maintained close ties and Yu intervened in police’s personnel affairs,” said a prosecutor.

The prosecutor said Yu also admitted giving tens of millions of won in bribes to Lee in return for helping him to win cafeteria contracts with large construction companies.

Both Kang and Lee denied the accusations.

Prosecutors are also investigating two to three current and former commissioners of metropolitan police agencies in the Yu case.

Kim Byung-chul, Ulsan Metropolitan Police Agency commissioner, and Yang Seong-cheol, Gwangju Metropolitan Police Agency commissioner, were named by the media as possible targets in the investigation, but they denied the allegations.

Prosecutors plan to investigate four to five police officials who asked Yu to help them get promoted.

Kang Hee-rak served as chief of the National Police Agency from March 2009 to August 2010, and Lee Gil-beom served as chief of the Korea Coast Guard from March 2009 to September 2010.


By Kim Mi-ju, Shim Sae-rom [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

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