Bribing businessman goes on the lam with his wife
A disgraced 67-year-old businessman is on the run from police after failing to show up for a hearing into allegations that he was handing out bribes while temporarily released from prison for medical reasons.
Yoo Sang-bong ended up in jail in 2010 for being at the center of a massive bribery scandal involving high-ranking government officials and construction firm executives. Yoo, a broker for operators of construction site canteens known as hamba, was convicted of using bribes in his attempts to win contracts. He was released in March.
Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency sources said on Wednesday that they have formed a team to track Yoo down. He has been under investigation since May for allegations that he continued bribing officials between January and May 2012, when he was out of jail on medical parole.
Yoo was released three times during his sentence and was ordered to stay either at home or at the hospital. But prosecutors believe he used the time to travel the country committing white-collar crime.
The police arrested Yoo on July 25 for continuously flaunting a police summons. Prosecutors rejected a request to keep him detained for further investigation due to lack of evidence.
Yoon is suspected of pocketing about 2 billion won ($1.79 million) that he borrowed from business partners. Police believe Yoo used the money to bribe local government officials supervising an apartment complex construction project and construction firm executives to win the license to run a hamba there.
Police later discovered that a Blue House presidential security service agent, also surnamed Park, received about 120 million won from Yoo while he was out on medical parole. Park was fired in May.
The police filed a second arrest warrant request on July 23 with more evidence, and it was approved. A hearing was scheduled on July 25, but Yoo never appeared. He didn’t surface for a second hearing scheduled on the 26th either, and the court issued a detention warrant for him that day.
The Supreme Court sentenced Yoo to a year-and-a-half in prison in November 2012 for issuing some 370 million won in bribes to seven high-ranking government officials including the former chief of the National Police Agency, Kang Hee-rak, and Chang Soo-man, the former commissioner of the Defense Acquisition Program Administration. Both resigned.
According to police and acquaintances of the businessman, Yoo disappeared with his wife, surnamed Kim. “We assume the couple decided to flee because it was obvious that Yoo is going to be detained again, as the police found out that he committed a crime during his custody period,” a police spokesman told the JoongAng Ilbo.
BY MOON BYUNG-JOO AND MIN KYUNG-WON [firstname.lastname@example.org]