Gwangju mayor’s office raided in forgery scandal

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Gwangju mayor’s office raided in forgery scandal

The prosecution yesterday raided the office of Gwangju Mayor Kang Un-tae to investigate his role in forging signatures of key government officials in the city’s successful bid to host the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships.

The raid is the law enforcement agency’s latest effort to determine if the mayor had prior knowledge of the forgeries.

This is the first time that the Gwangju mayor’s office has been raided.

Five investigators from the Gwangju District Prosecutors’ Office conducted the search and seizure operation for almost three hours, obtaining documents and computer files related to the bid.

The office of Kim Yoon-seok, director of the bidding committee, was also searched.

The Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism alleged on July 19 that Mayor Kang had forged the signatures of former Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik and former Culture Minister Choi Gwang-sik on documents claiming to offer central government financial support of $100 million for the swimming event.

The revelation came hours before FINA announced that Gwangju had won its bid.

The mayor and the Gwangju Metropolitan Government maintain that the fake signatures were the result of a staff member’s mistake. Gwangju said it replaced the offending letter with a proper one in June.

“I was informed by [Gwangju city] officials after the [forged] bid letter was submitted [to FINA],” the mayor explained during a press conference last month after the forgery allegations were revealed.

“I accused them of doing something illegal,” he said.

The Culture Ministry asked the prosecution to look into the allegation on July 22, prompting prosecutors to raid the city government and a consulting firm the following day.

As a result of the scandal, the central government insists it will not provide financial support, saying that it “takes this case seriously.”

The central government also stressed that it will apply tighter reviews to make sure regional governments have sufficient financial means to make bids for international sporting competitions.

The announcement was directed at some local governments that have been criticized for bleeding cash in desperate attempts to win such events.



BY PARK EUN-JEE [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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