Gov’t official is accused of leaking personal data

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Gov’t official is accused of leaking personal data

The Yeongdeungpo Police Precinct confirmed yesterday that it had requested a pre-trial detention warrant for a 58-year-old official from the Ministry of Employment and Labor who allegedly misused information from individuals and companies and illegally applied for subsidies for small and midsize companies.

During a briefing yesterday morning, the police said the official, identified only by his surname Choi, allegedly approached small-business owners, persuading them to let him apply for government subsidies on their behalf and promising to handle the complicated financial procedures.

“Choi was aware that those who own small and medium-size companies had no knowledge about subsidies, unlike large corporations, which usually hire certified labor lawyers,” said Ahn Chan-soo, chief of the criminal investigation.

Choi is suspected of setting up five corporations in the names of his family members - which were also used on the subsidy applications - for which he hired approximately 200 salespersons. Those employees allegedly received a 30 percent commission - the standard is usually between 15 percent to 20 percent - on those subsidies, which added up to about 5.8 billion won ($5.38 million). Choi and his accomplices obtained and scanned the information of about eight million individuals and businesses before illegally using the information of 128,000 people for the subsidy applications.

As an official at the Ministry of Employment and Labor, Choi could freely access the employment information system, and one of his primary responsibilities included granting authority to other staff members to access the database.

The police requested detention warrants for Choi and another suspect over allegations that they gave away personal data and breached labor laws. They are also investigating 15 accomplices, including Choi’s daughter, on the same charges. Three presidents from the companies that illegally received subsidies were also charged with fraud.

Choi engaged in the illicit activities between August 2008 and October 2013, according to the police, though the ministry at the time was unaware of any underhanded operations.

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