Ex-top tax dog’s home is raided

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Ex-top tax dog’s home is raided

Prosecutors have raided the Seoul office of the National Tax Service as well as the residence of its former head on allegations that he took hundreds of millions of won in bribes from jailed CJ Group Chairman Lee Jay-hyun. As the probe into massive corruption at the conglomerate begins to drag in former high-level government officials, Jun Gun-pyo’s home in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul was searched at 11 a.m. yesterday, and a computer, hard drives and documents were seized.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office conducted the raid just three days after they detained Heo Byung-yik, 58, the former deputy head of the NTS. After questioning Heo, prosecutors said earlier this week that Jun received $300,000 and a Cartier watch from CJ.

The raid on the Seoul Regional Tax Office was on the tax investigation unit in charge of CJ probes and other high-profile cases. The suspicion is that the ex-tax agency bosses helped CJ avoid investigations.

CJ’s Lee was indicted and detained earlier this month for allegedly creating slush funds worth a whopping 620 billion won ($440.5 million), evading taxes and embezzling some 200 billion won of company funds. Prosecutors have been expanding their probe to target former government brass after obtaining information that the CJ chief bribed members of the Lee Myung-bak administration.

Jun currently denies all of the allegations, saying he never received the $300,000 or the luxury watch. He was banned from leaving the country late Monday night. Prosecution sources said he will likely be summoned as early as this week after the evidence obtained in the raids is reviewed.

This is not Jun’s first corruption scandal. He was jailed in December 2008 for taking 79 million won from the former head of the Busan Regional Tax Office in return for helping him get the job in 2007. The arrest gained Jun the dubious distinction of being the first NTS commissioner ever to be detained during his term since the agency was established in 1996.

“We will check every allegation related to Jun, including the CJ tax investigations,” a spokesman at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office told the JoongAng Ilbo.

Back in 2008 and 2009, the tax agency found that Lee had created about 400 billion won in slush funds, which he claimed he had inherited. The tax service believed him and he avoided a probe at the time. CJ later voluntarily paid 170 million won in inheritance tax.

BY SHIM SAE-ROM, KWON SANG-SOO [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]
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