Arirang TV chief’s caviar bill queried

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Arirang TV chief’s caviar bill queried

The president of the state-run English broadcaster Arirang TV was accused Monday of fiddling his expenses on an overseas trip, including a lavish caviar meal.

Rep. Choi Min-hee of the main opposition Minjoo Party said Bang Suk-ho, president of Arirang TV, used a corporate credit card to pay for personal expenses during a business trip to New York City last September. Bang traveled to the United States to cover President Park Geun-hye’s address at the United Nations General Assembly, which Arirang aired live.

According to Choi’s office, Bang spent $930 at a restaurant specializing in caviar in New York City on Sept. 24, the first day of his trip, and later expensed the meal, saying it was a meeting with the head of the Korean Cultural Service in New York City.

On Sept. 27, 2015, Bang visited the Woodbury Common Premium Outlets shopping mall in Central Valley, New York, and used his corporate credit card for food. He expensed that meal saying that it was a meeting with Seo Sok-min, an official at the United Nations headquarters.

According to the Kyunghyang Shinmun newspaper, both officials denied sharing meals with Bang or even meeting him.

Arirang TV said Monday that Bang did not misappropriate corporate money during his New York City trip, but mistakes were made when the expenses were filed.

“Six people including a UN official and a diplomat from the local consulate dined on the first day of the visit,” said an Arirang TV official about the caviar restaurant receipt. “A mistake was made because we did not verify who actually attended the meeting.”

He said Bang visited the outlet mall on Sunday during the Chuseok holidays. “Bang said he ate a hamburger with his driver at the outlets,” he said.

Arirang TV also denied that Bang brought his family on the New York trip using corporate money. “His daughter was going to have a wedding in October that year, and she went to New York City with her mother, separately from Bang,” the official said. “They used different flights and the company didn’t pay their tickets.”

Arirang TV, however, admitted that Bang wrongfully used his corporate credit card on another business trip to New York last May. The company called it an honest mistake.

“After a business trip, he visited North Carolina to meet his son, who was a graduate student of Duke University,” the official said. “Bang paid for a meal for his son and friends and used a corporate credit card. Since we discovered that, Bang will reimburse the money.”

The misappropriated amount was $1,035, the official said.

“He had several credit cards and he got confused,” the official said. “Bang paid with his own money to buy round-trip tickets to visit North Carolina from New York City.”

Arirang TV also issued a press release saying the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism will conduct a special investigation on expenses scandal. “We will fully cooperate with the probe,” it said.

Bang, a former professor at Hongik University, was appointed president of Arirang TV in December 2014.

BY LEE HOO-NAM [enational@joongang.co.kr]

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