KVA head faces charge over bribery

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KVA head faces charge over bribery

The president of the Korean Veterans Association (KVA) is facing charges of breach of trust for taking bribes worth 400 million won ($345,768) from the nephew of the former vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office is looking into accusations that Cho Nam-poong, 77, took 400 million won from a man surnamed Cho, 69, the nephew of Zhao Nanqi - whose Korean name is Cho Nam-ki - a retired general in the Chinese army who held the highest-ranking position in China as an ethnic Korean.Zhao also served as a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China between 1992 and 1997, before becoming the vice chairman of the CPPCC’s national committee.

The prosecution suspects that the KVA chief accepted the bribes to pay off debts and, in return, promised Cho, the nephew, that he would use his title to strike a deal that would guarantee the formation of a joint tour program between the KVA and the Chinese Veterans Association.

Cho has reportedly denied that he accepted bribes, though the prosecution has obtained a recording of the two men forging a secret deal, according to the JoongAng Ilbo.

After handing in the money, Cho, the nephew, visited the headquarters of the KVA accompanied by the accused. If the 77-year-old had managed to pull off the deal for a tour program as promised, it would have resulted in up to 20 billion won in profit.

Prosecutors sought a pre-trial detention warrant for Cho on Wednesday, a day after he was questioned. Aside from apparently accepting 400 million won, he also stands accused of raking in 50 million won and 60 million won in two separate cases in return for business favors.

During questioning, Cho claimed he had given back 50 million to a business man surnamed Park. On the 60 million won bribe, he said that though he did take money, it was a lesser amount.

As of press time, the Seoul Central Court was still reviewing the validity of the pre-trial arrest warrant for Cho.

Cho Nam-poong, a graduate of the Korean Military Academy, was the Army’s first division commander and served as a security expert for Park Geun-hye’s campaign team during the 2012 presidential election. He was elected to lead the KVA in April, after two failed bids.

BY SEO BOK-HYEON, KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]
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