Civil servant with hand in till gets jail time, big fine

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Civil servant with hand in till gets jail time, big fine

A civil servant convicted of embezzling 8.8 billion won ($7.9 million) in public funds was sentenced to nine years in prison and he and his wife were told to pay fines of 14 billion won.

The wife was sentenced to five years in prison for spending the embezzled money.

The Gwangju High Court Thursday overturned a lower court ruling sentencing the 48-year-old government worker to 11 years in prison but imposed fines on him and his wife.

Kim Seok-dae was a level 8 civil servant responsible for handling retirement payments in the accounting division of the Yeosu City Government.

He was convicted of fabricating retirement payments and pocketing them for more than three years.

The couple used 5.4 billion won to pay off debt, while Kim gave 1.6 billion won to his relatives and his mistress. Kim’s 41-year-old wife, a moneylender, used 1 billion won in her private lending business.

“The convicted pair began embezzling the city government’s funds only 10 days after Kim was sent to the division, which shows the seriousness of the crime,” said the presiding judge. “Even if the couple spent all the money, they are obliged to pay it back.”

The couple was ordered to pay back 6 billion won to the Yeosu government and additional punitive fines of 4.7 billion for Kim and 3.3 billion won for his wife.

The Yeosu government requested compensation during the first trial but was denied because it filed the request too late.

But the city was reimbursed 800 million won from the Seoul Guarantee Insurance Company, an insurance company that works with governments.

Chances are slim that the couple can pay the entire fine. They own a house worth approximately 100 million won, two cars and have 330,000 won in a bank account.

Yet under a new law passed to find the hidden wealth of former President Chun Doo Hwan, who owes the state a large fine that he refuses to pay, the government is now able to claim assets of convicts’ relatives if they are proven to be linked to the original crime.

BY PARK EUN-JEE AND CHOI KYUNG-HO [ejpark@joongang.co.kr]

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