Mirae chair indicted for embezzling

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Mirae chair indicted for embezzling

Prosecutors have indicted Kim Chan-kyong, the 56-year-old chairman of the debt-ridden Mirae Savings Bank, yesterday, for his alleged involvement in embezzling some 200 billion won ($169 million) in company funds for personal use.

According to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, its central investigation team put Kim on trial yesterday afternoon for violating the country’s Act on the Aggravated Punishment for Specific Economic Crimes - breach of trust, embezzlement - and the Mutual Savings Banks Act.

The indictment comes around 20 days after he was arrested while attempting to leave the country.

Chairman Kim is accused of pocketing company money before trying to flee to China to avoid prosecutorial questioning following the Financial Services Commission’s suspension of four savings banks earlier this month, including Mirae, for insolvency.

He is also accused of giving out and receiving illegal loans, which is against the Mutual Savings Banks Act. The act states that a major shareholder of a savings bank is not allowed to receive loans.

In the latest development of the scandal surrounding Chairman Kim, the central investigation unit of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office found evidence on Wednesday that Chairman Kim allegedly gave hundreds of millions of won to government officials at the National Tax Service and the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS).

Prosecutors’ investigation showed that Kim also offered holiday gifts to around 20 high-level industry officials, including former bank and FSS executives, leading investigators to widen their probe into the financial scandal surrounding Chairman Kim and his suspended bank as well as other officials from the industry.

The central investigation team has obtained a statement after questioning officials from Mirae Savings Bank - one of the four suspended savings banks - that “Chairman Kim gave more than 100 million won worth of money and valuables on two to three separate occasions to an employee surnamed Lee at the Busan Regional Tax Office.”

Based on the statement, Lee was the head inspector when the regional office conducted a tax investigation into Mirae Savings Bank and its chairman two or three times from 2008. And based on the statement, Chairman Kim allegedly gave bribes to Lee, asking him “to charge his bank less additional tax.”

Prosecutors have also uncovered a document that Chairman Kim allegedly gave 300 million won to a high-level official at the FSS.

Mirae officials told prosecutors that they were “ordered by Chairman Kim to transfer 300 million won worth of money to a certain company and later on Chairman Kim explained that ‘the money was given to an FSS official.’?”

Prosecutors are also currently investigating the 20 other high-level officials to whom Chairman Kim has allegedly given holiday gifts. The investigation so far has shown that a high-level former government official representing the so-called MOFia, a group of economic officials from the Ministry of Finance (currently, the Ministry of Strategy and Finance), is included.

Meanwhile, following the JoongAng Ilbo report early this week that Kim Seung-yu, former chairman of the Hana Financial Group, helped Mirae Chairman Kim grant an unfair favor to the older brother of a Blue House official last year, prosecutors have also obtained evidence that it was Sejoong Namo Tour Chairman Chun Shin-il who connected the two Kims together as acquaintances.

Prosecutors have obtained a statement from Chairman Kim that “Chun Shin-il, chairman of Sejoong Namo Tour, connected me with former Hana Chairman Kim.”

Prosecutors are considering investigating Chun as well. Chun is a close confidant of President Lee Myung-bak and is a Korea University alumnus with former Hana Financial Group Chairman Kim, who has denied all allegations.

By Park Jin-seok, Jung Won-yeob [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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