Judge arrested on bribery suspicions

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Judge arrested on bribery suspicions

Prosecutors on Monday announced that they had made an emergency arrest of a 43-year-old judge surnamed Choi a day before over allegations that he took bribes worth hundreds of millions of won from a loan shark.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office then issued an arrest warrant for the judge, who is accused of receiving kickbacks from a 61-year-old moneylender nicknamed the “Myeongdong Loan King” in housing funds and stocks since 2009.

It is rare for an incumbent judge to be implicated and arrested in such a bribery case for legal favors. The most recent case dates back nearly nine years to the arrest in 2006 of Cho Kwan-haeng, a senior judge at the Seoul High Court.

An arrest warrant must be issued within 48 hours after an emergency arrest is made.

According to an official with the prosecution, some of the people related to the issue include Choi’s relatives and relatives by marriage, “which could mean that testimonies can be changed or evidence destroyed.”

The official added that Choi’s “psychological state was unstable, which was a primary reason for the emergency arrest.”

He was initially summoned by prosecutors for questioning last April over allegations that he had received 6 million won from the moneylender.

Judge Choi was questioned by prosecutors on Sunday and Monday.

The loan shark, also surnamed Choi, was arrested nearly three years ago for financing swindling and gambling groups, as well as his involvement in drugs, among other charges.

While under a prosecutorial investigation for similar charges in 2008, he became acquainted with Judge Choi, who was working as a prosecutor at the time.

Choi is accused of receiving at least 400 million won in bribes, relayed by his relatives from the moneylender.

BY SARAH KIM, PARK MIN-JE [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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