Ex-Coast Guard leader questioned

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Ex-Coast Guard leader questioned

Prosecutors yesterday summoned former Korea Coast Guard Commissioner Lee Gil-beom on charges of allegedly pocketing 35 million won ($31,269) from cafeteria business owner Yu Sang-bong in 2009.

“I will clarify everything during the investigation,” Lee said before he appeared at the Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday.

Prosecutors investigating a bribery scandal involving Yu in December barred Lee and former National Police Agency Commissioner Kang Hee-rak from overseas travel after they found evidence that the two allegedly took bribes from Yu in return for business favors.

Prosecutors will question Lee over whether he received 35 million won and an apartment in Incheon from the businessman in return for helping him win contracts to run makeshift cafeterias to serve workers at construction sites. Yu was indicted in November.

Prosecutors plan to seek an arrest warrant for Lee on bribery charges.

In a related matter, prosecutors sought an arrest warrant for former National Police Agency Commissioner Kang Hee-rak late Tuesday on charges of pocketing 110 million won from Yu in 2009.

Kang is also suspected of allegedly giving 40 million won to Yu and asking him to flee overseas when the allegations broke last year.

Kang denied most of the allegations during questioning, but prosecutors said they obtained enough evidence to press charges against him. A local court will decide whether to grant prosecutors the warrant.

To quell public distrust of the police amid corruption cases involving former and incumbent police officials, National Police Agency Commissioner Cho Hyun-oh this week ordered police officers to voluntarily report if any of them had met with Yu.

Cho yesterday presided over a nationwide police leadership meeting in connection with the scandal and he said 41 senior police officials voluntarily reported they had met him.

Cho said most of the police officials said they met Yu at the request of former National Police Agency Commissioner Kang Hee-rak. Some of them said they personally knew Yu.

Cho said Yu had asked the 41 officials to set up a meeting with managers at construction sites to win cafeteria operations. Though most rejected Yu’s request, Cho said some police officials received gifts such as bottles of wine and fermented skate fish.

The National Police Agency has been conducting an internal investigation in response to the graft scandal involving Kang and Lee. It said it will sternly punish police officials discovered to have broken the law.

By Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]
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