Warrant sought for ex-tax chief Jun in CJ bribery scandal

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Warrant sought for ex-tax chief Jun in CJ bribery scandal

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday asked a court to grant a pre-trial detention warrant for Jun Gun-pyo, the former National Tax Service Commissioner suspected of taking bribes from jailed CJ Group Chairman Lee Jay-hyun in 2007.

Jun is accused of receiving $300,000 and a designer watch from the country’s 14th largest conglomerate when he was appointed to lead the NTS in 2006, in return for giving favors to the tycoon.

The Seoul Central District Court will review the validity of the warrant request at 2 p.m. today and determine whether to issue the warrant.

The request came a day after Jun was arrested after a 14-hour grilling by prosecutors Thursday.

During the questioning, Jun reportedly acknowledged that he had received the money and the watch from CJ Group.

In a written statement submitted to prosecutors before the questioning, the former commissioner alleged they were mere gifts congratulating him for getting the top position at the powerful tax agency.

The JoongAng Ilbo reported that the watch given to Jun was a woman’s watch worth 20 million won ($17,788), made by the Swiss brand Franck Muller.

The prosecutors suspect Jun exercised his influence to get CJ off the hook for a 350 billion won fine it should have paid.

The 59-old former tax chief already earned the dubious distinction in 2008 of being the first NTS commissioner ever to be jailed during their term since the tax agency was established in 1966.

Jun was jailed in December 2008 for three-and-a-half years for taking 79 million won from the former head of the Busan Regional Tax Office, who was thanking him for helping him get the job in 2007.

Jun was released in July 2010 thanks to a reduction in his prison term for good behavior. With the latest scandal, Jun faces the prospect of being sent to jail for a second time.

Of the tax agency’s 19 commissioners since its founding, almost half, or eight, have been jailed, arrested or questioned by prosecutors for illegal acts.

Song Gwang-jo, 50, chief of the Seoul tax office, was also questioned by prosecutors on suspicion of accepting free golf games in return for helping CJ Group avoid a tax audit. Song tendered his resignation from the post Thursday.

Song is the third tax official to be investigated since the probe of the conglomerate began to drag in high-ranking government officials.

The widening investigation into CJ’s gifts-for-favors scandal is now poised to reach former NTS commissioners Han Sang-yool and Lee Hyun-dong, according to Munhwa Ilbo.

CJ Chairman Lee Jay-hyun is being investigated by prosecutors for allegedly having slush funds worth hundreds of billions of won and evading taxes through offshore companies.

BY KANG JIN-KYU, LEE KA-YOUNG [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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