Rear admiral arrested in bribe caseInvestigators, looking into corruption in procurement for the military, arrested a Rear Admiral in the Navy for fabricating evaluations of a helicopter in return for bribes.
The investigation team said the officer surnamed Park, whose first name was withheld, fabricated official documents certifying the helicopter’s capabilities when he was involved in purchasing strategic anti-submarine helicopters in a mega project worth 1.3 trillion won ($1.1 billion).
It was the first time that the special investigation team arrested a serving, high-ranking officer for alleged corruption and taking advantage of one’s position. The team reported that while Park was working as the director of the Navy’s strategic planning unit, he was involved in the 2012 selection of AW159 Wildcats for use as maritime helicopters. The helicopter is made by AgustaWestland S.p.A., an Anglo-Italian company.
To help the special-purpose helicopter win the bid, Park fabricated evaluations of the AW159, though it actually did not meet the operational specifications required by the Navy. The investigators are looking into Park’s superiors in the chain of command after finding evidence they may have colluded in the selection of the AW159.
The team also indicted a retired Navy captain surnamed Lim, 56, with physical detention on charges that he overlooked critical malfunctions in submarines to be purchased under the second phase of the Korean Attack Submarine program.
According to the authorities, Lim was in charge of the trial run of three 1,800-ton submarines manufactured by Hyundai Heavy Industries over a three year period from Jan. 2007 through Feb. 2010. During his stint as the director of the trial, Lim was contacted by a former senior Navy official identified as Lim, 68, who had become a director at Hyundai Heavy Industries following his retirement from the Navy as a rear admiral. The two Lims are not related. The details of the alleged bribe given to Lim were not disclosed.
The investigators discovered that Lim, 56, submitted a false evaluation of the submarine to his superiors that neglected to mention defects in the fuel battery designed to enable a submarine to stay underwater for an extended period of time.
The Navy invested 945.8 billion won in the submarine enhancement project mainly to purchase submarines that can stay underwater for up to two weeks making use of a new fuel battery. But the battery on the Son Won-il submarine stopped functioning 16 times and the one on the An Jung-geun malfunctioned 63 times. On the third sub, the Jung Ji, the battery stopped 43 times.
The malfunctions caused a delay in the Navy’s deployment of the three submarines, which were completed in September 2013, four years after the Navy purchased them.
BY LEE YU-JEONG [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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