Two indicted in Gwangju forgeries

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Two indicted in Gwangju forgeries

The prosecution yesterday indicted two government officials for allegedly forging documents for the city of Gwangju’s successful bid to host the 2019 FINA World Aquatics Championships.

But Mayor Kang Un-tae, who was accused by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism of being involved in the alleged forgery, walked free while Kim Yoon-seok, director of the bidding committee, and a woman public servant surnamed Han were indicted with detention.

The Gwangju District Prosecutors’ Office didn’t charge two other bidding committee members citing lack of evidence. That was also why they didn’t indict the mayor.

The indictments came two months after the Culture Ministry accused the Gwangju mayor and city officials of forging signatures of key government officials pledging financial support to the city for the games, including former Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik and former Culture Minister Choi Gwang-sik. They made the accusations just hours before FINA announced that it selected Gwangju as the host city for the event.

The focus of the investigation was whether higher-ups like the mayor ordered the forgeries. But the prosecutors said internal documents, e-mail archives and other materials they obtained didn’t support those allegation.

The Gwangju prosecutors said that Kim, the head of the bidding committee, scanned signatures of the high-ranking government officials and sent the document with the forged signatures to FINA, the governing body of the international sporting event, in April. The woman official is charged with printing documents to distribute to FINA members.

City officials replaced the fabricated bid with a proper one after the government announced the forgeries. The final version of the bid, submitted June 17, only vaguely mentions that the central government will “actively support” the hosting.

“This is a serious crime where signatures of a prime minister and culture minister were forged,” said Oh Jeong-don, the prosecutor in charge of the case. “We’d like to tighten monitoring of the bidding committees for international sporting events.”

After the forgeries were discovered, the central government vowed not to offer any financial assistance for the games.


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

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