DAPA official is eyed in procurement forgery

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DAPA official is eyed in procurement forgery

A joint government investigation team tasked with uncovering corruption in the defense industry has requested an arrest warrant for an official in the military’s top procurement institution, throwing into question the organization’s transparency.

Investigators announced Sunday that they were seeking an arrest warrant for a lieutenant colonel surnamed Heo in the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) on allegations that he forged a company contract from a supplier that provides starting generators for jets and gave kickbacks to the supplier.

Starting generators improve the efficiency of jets during take-off.

“It turned out that the starting generators did not meet the qualifications suggested by the Air Force, though it concluded the deal with the document Heo fabricated,” one of the investigators said.

“The supplier concluded a private contract with DAPA in 2013 to provide about 90 generators for 400 million won ($341,000) each, and it had already supplied about 10 billion won worth of generators so far.”

Heo was apprehended Friday as investigators analyzed confiscated data from DAPA and the supplier. The team is currently questioning Heo to find out whether he was directed by his superiors and whether the supplier bribed DAPA in the process.

The case has raised concerns about DAPA’s credibility as the top military acquisition agency. The institution was established in January 2006 in an attempt to make acquisition processes in the defense industry more transparent.

DAPA, an agency under the Ministry of National Defense, has so far exclusively overseen the entire weapon acquisitions process.

The findings, however, are among a series of corruption allegations to surface against DAPA since the investigation team was launched last year.

In February, an Army colonel in DAPA was found to have fabricated a performance test for multifunctional body armor for the Special Forces.

Two months later, former Navy Chief of Staff Hwang Ki-chul was indicted for directing his subordinates to forge an assessment during his tenure at DAPA for a sonar device for the Tongyeong salvage ship.

The investigation team in July concluded in an interim report that because DAPA has the most authority over acquisition projects and has frequent contact with subcontractors, the potential for internal corruption was high.

BY SEO BOK-HYEON, KIM BONG-MOON [kim.bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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