Cultural envoy to Russia padded office’s payroll

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Cultural envoy to Russia padded office’s payroll

The former chairman of the Korea Culture Service in Moscow is under investigation for padding his payroll and pocketing the money.

On Wednesday, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office summoned and questioned Yoo Min, 53, former chairman of the Korea Culture Service in Russia, as to whether he embezzled 50 million won ($45,000) of the service agency’s budget. Yoo worked at the Korean Embassy in Moscow from Feb. 2008 to Feb. 2010, and was chairman of the Korea Culture Service Agency Russia from Feb. 2010 to Mar. 2011.

According to prosecutors, Yoo allegedly hired temporary maintenance workers and people to work on the agency’s Web site and then overstated the wages he paid them, keeping the balance. Prosecutors said Yoo allegedly pocketed $38,000 in this way.

In addition, prosecutors said, Yoo allegedly pocketed another $12,000 by saying it was money needed to finance a Korean pianist’s concert in Germany, and overstated six workers’ overtime allowances.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism asked prosecutors to investigate Yoo in April. Yoo denied pocketing any government funds, but admitted padding his budget, prosecutors said. “I concede the suspicion on promoting the bigger budget,” Yoo told prosecutors. “But I never used the money privately. I used the money for the agency.”

Meanwhile, another Korean culture official abroad has gotten in trouble. An official at the Korea Culture Service Agency in Germany surnamed Kang was caught allegedly driving while intoxicated on Oct. 7.

According to several German news outlets, Kang hit four vehicles while he was driving while drunk and tried to escape the accident scene.

By Park Jin-seok, Chae Yoon-kyung []
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