Presidential guard fired for bribe in canteen case

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Presidential guard fired for bribe in canteen case

The Presidential Security Service has fired an agent for having received bribes in a wider influence-peddling scandal involving bribes paid to politicians, police and even the Coast Guard.

According to the Blue House, a 46-year-old agent of the Presidential Security Service, identified only by the surname Park, was dismissed on Monday on charges of receiving 120 million won ($107,210) in April and May of last year from Yu Sang-bong, a businessman convicted in a bribery scandal. Yu, who worked as a lobbyist for operators of canteens on construction sites, bribed construction company executives and also public officials for business rights.

Yu served 18 months in prison and was released in May.

During the time of his prison term, Yu was released on parole for medical treatment from February 2012 to May 2012. While outside the prison - but technically still serving his sentence - Yu was allegedly still paying bribes including the money to the Blue House security agent.

“After learning about the scandal, we dismissed him from his duties,” a Blue House official said. “And today, we held a disciplinary hearing and fired him under internal regulations.”

The official said a police investigation and other necessary legal procedures will continue, but the decision to fire the agent from the Presidential Security Service was made for inappropriate conduct as a civil servant.

The local media reported yesterday that the agent worked on a security detail for a former president. Until recently, he was assigned to protect former first lady Lee Hee-ho, the reports said.

The former agent told the JoongAng Ilbo Monday that he was not in a position to discuss his case.

Another presidential aide yesterday tried to put distance between the case and the Park Geun-hye Blue House. “It took place last year,” he said, stressing that the alleged bribery happened before Park’s inauguration in February.

The Presidential Security Service has earned the nickname the “de facto owner of the Blue House” because its members stay on the job even when presidents change. All other staffers change every five years when a new president is elected.

Senior agents have frequent contacts with top officials, making them targets of lobbyists who sometimes seek their influences in return for bribes. The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency will soon summon the agent for questioning. According to the police, he deposited 20 million won from Yun in his own bank account and deposited the rest in a friend’s account.

The police said the agent made several contacts with executives of construction companies in charge of commercial and residential complexes in the capital region and a planned thermal power plant in Chungcheong area.

The police said it is also investigating Yu for other alleged crimes during his medical parole. Yu was indicted in November 2010 on charges of bribing top government officials including former Police Chief Kang Hee-rak and a former Korea Coast Guard commissioner. The Supreme Court upheld his conviction by a lower court last November.

Yu was ordered to serve 18 months, but he was given three paroles during his prison term. The police believe he committed more crimes during those periods.



BY SER MYO-JA, KO SUNG-PYO [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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