Airport agency worker arrested in bribery case

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Airport agency worker arrested in bribery case

The Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday that it has arrested a 42-year-old employee, surnamed Choi, from the Korea Airports Corporation’s R&D Center on charges of taking bribes worth up to 160 million won ($154,047) from an aviation equipment supplier.

Prosecutors are also investigating three other KAC executives over suspicions that they also received bribes from Choi.

While taking charge of development and orders of tactical air navigation devices from February 2010 to September 2011, Choi allegedly collected 120 million won in cash and gift cards worth 22 million won from the aviation equipment manufacturer, and was also bribed with entertainment worth 21 million won over a year since May 2009. Choi allegedly went so far as to pressure the supplier into giving a 40 million won research order to his professor and paying for an overseas business trip.

The three KAC executives are believed to have divided up the gift cards and spent them in a personal capacity, such as on golf and shopping trips.

Tactical air navigation (Tacan) equipment assists pilots by providing wire or wireless communications and guiding them with lights and colors.

The supplier has so far provided operationally sound products worth 6.4 billion won to various domestic airports.

However, despite a clean track record, the supplier’s president took his own life last October, apparently out of guilt from handing out bribes.

He had reportedly complained about his financial difficulties to others and wrote in his suicide note that he “should not have started supplying products to the KAC.”

“There were three contracts from 2010 to 2012 between the KAC and the supplier, but the president could not receive 1.7 billion won for the second contract until he died,” said a prosecutor. The KAC adopted a “one-strike” system in June 2009, in which those bribed with money or entertainment worth more than 1 million won will be dismissed or expelled from their positions. The prosecutors’ office has banned Choi from selling his assets and seized his illegal earnings.

For two years running, in 2012 and 2013, the KAC was the only public agency designated by the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC) as a transparent institution.

BY SHIM SAE-ROM [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]



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