New arrests in nuke corruption case

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New arrests in nuke corruption case

Thirteen additional people have been charged with forging safety inspection reports for components supplied to the country’s nuclear reactors as a prosecutor investigation into widespread corruption in the industry expands.

The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday that they have arrested two people and filed a warrant on Monday to detain 11 more from multiple reactor part producers. They are accused of forging safety test results in a series of documents including quality certificates, which provide a warranty for purchased supplies, certified material test reports and several other forms that are possibly related to the safety of nuclear reactors.

Through the one-month investigation, which was launched by a complaint from the Nuclear Safety and Security Commission, the prosecution found that a company based in Cheonan, South Chungcheong, had forged the results of six safety tests for components used in reactor air exhaust systems between December 2009 and November 2010. The firm generated about 1.5 billion won ($1.3 million) in unlawful gains from the violation.

A company based in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi, forged four test reports for pipes used in reactor cooling systems in July 2010. It earned 1.7 billion won in illegal profit from the move, the prosecution said.

Another company in Incheon forged the results of five tests on reactor motor components between May and July last year. That company made about 1.3 billion won.

On May 29, prosecutors formed a special investigation team at the eastern branch of the Busan District Prosecutors’ Office to probe the Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power for widespread forgery of reactor part safety tests. The number of people arrested in the snowballing probe rose to 24 yesterday.

Kim Jong-shin, the former president of the state-run KHNP was arrested in early July on allegations that he took more than 100 million won in bribes from nuclear industry firms in return for favors. Prosecutors reportedly found evidence of the illicit activity in e-mails from 2008 that Kim exchanged with nuclear reactor officials. The investigation team is looking into potential further corruption in the supply of parts to nuclear reactors, as the KHNP has decisive authority over supplier selection.

The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission asked that prosecutors investigate 49 reactor part suppliers in July. Prosecutors simultaneously raided 31 companies nationwide on July 24 and charged 13 people on Monday after reviewing evidence they obtained.


BY KWON SANG-SOO [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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