Ex-Navy chief mired in second scandal

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Ex-Navy chief mired in second scandal

Former Chief of Naval Operations Jung Ok-keun, who is currently embroiled in a corruption scandal over allegations that he was bribed by STX Group, is now suspected to have received 60 million won ($54,700) in 2009 from a military goods dealer for brokering a contract for telecommunications and electronic intelligence-collecting devices for spy ships.

A government investigative team looking into defense industry corruption also arrested a 61-year-old retired rear admiral from the South Korean Navy surnamed Lee over accusations that he delivered the bribe and also received 40 million won.

“Rear admiral Lee is thought to have received 100 million won from a broker with a German manufacturer in exchange for selecting it to provide telecommunication and electronic intelligence-collecting devices for the spy ships,” an official on the team said. “Lee asked Jung for a favor and handed over 60 million in bribes to him.”

Lee, who graduated from the Naval Academy with Jung, was serving as the chief of the battle development and safety division in 2009, while Jung was serving as the chief of Naval Operations.

Investigators believe Lee asked Jung to select the manufacturer and alert the task force responsible for handling the spy ships.

The maintenance fee for the German company was much higher than other domestic ones, though the task force forged the document to make it appear as if the German products were actually the cheapest. Officials then concluded a 23 billion won deal with the German company.

The broker is also being questioned by the investigative team.

The corruption charge follows another scandal earlier this year, in which Jung and his eldest son were alleged to have accepted a 770 million won bribe from STX Group in 2008.

In 2008, when he was also the incumbent chief of Naval Operations, Jung allegedly helped STX Group secure shipbuilding contracts for gunboats and frigates. In return, he demanded that STX’s standing adviser Yoon Yeon, who also served as the commander-in-chief of the Republic of Korea Fleet, hand over 1 billion won to his eldest son’s company.

When STX Group did not accept the deal right away, Jung’s son offered a discount of 770 million won and convinced the conglomerate that he would allow then-Chairman Kang Duk-soo to ride on the same war vessel with then President Lee Myung-bak during a Busan yachting event organized to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Navy’s establishment, the investigation team said. The investigation team believes the company managed by Jung’s son was actually a paper company founded with Jung’s money.

BY KIM BONG-MOON [kim.bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]
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