Envoy grilled in diamond mine case

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Envoy grilled in diamond mine case

A former senior diplomat appeared before prosecutors early yesterday for questioning over his alleged role in a stock manipulation scandal surrounding a diamond mine in Cameroon.

Energy and Resources Ambassador Kim Eun-seok, who had his duties suspended over the scandal, arrived at the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office in southern Seoul at 9:30 a.m.

“I did not do anything that deserves disciplinary action or criminal punishment,” Kim told reporters before entering the office, in a strong denial of allegations raised against him.

Kim is suspected of having used his influence as a senior official at the foreign ministry to inflate the stock prices of CNK International by exaggerating the volume of diamond reserves in a Cameroon mine developed by the KOSDAQ-listed company.

The scandal is centered on a fallacious foreign ministry press statement released in December 2010, which said the volume of diamonds in the mine near the southeastern town of Yokadouma in Cameroon was estimated at 420 million carats, 2.5 times the annual global diamond production at that time.

State auditors have found that Kim encouraged ministry officials to issue the press release and that the issuance was made even before the company made an official announcement to the stock market about the mining project.

The foreign ministry’s statement caused shares of the developer to rise drastically while the company’s notice did not include the inflated information, according to the auditors.

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