Swimming federation official arrested as probe expanded

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Swimming federation official arrested as probe expanded

Prosecutors said Wednesday that they had arrested an official affiliated with the Korea Swimming Federation (KSF) in Mokpo, South Jeolla, as part of an ongoing investigation into corruption allegations within the organization.

The suspect, identified only as Lee, is believed to have misappropriated KSF money and handed out bribes in exchange for favors.

Authorities also raided the governing body’s offices in South Jeolla as part of its expanding investigation.

Prosecutors earlier apprehended two KSF officials, on Feb. 19 and 23, on similar charges and led a raid on the KSF headquarters in Seoul and other regional offices, confiscating hard drives and other documents over bribery and embezzlement suspicions.

Lee, a former national water polo team coach, is suspected of funneling money out of the organization’s budget and skimming government funds. The prosecution suspects he may have bribed high-level officials in the KSF to maintain his position in the sports body and influence athlete selection.

Lee is thought to be a close aide to a high-level KSF official, surnamed Jeong, who was arrested Feb. 23 on charges that he accepted bribes in exchange for influencing the selection of national team swimmers.

Jeong also stands accused of taking money from other officials in return for allowing them to maintain their status in the KSF.

The amount he is suspected of taking totals approximately 500 million won ($400,300), and includes about 150 million won given by a KSF official, surnamed Park, who operates a private swimming club.

Prosecutors said that in return, Jeong agreed to give the swimmers registered at Park’s club an advantage in national team selection.

On Feb. 19, authorities arrested another high-level KSF official, a facilities manager also surnamed Lee, on charges that he accepted 300 million won from a subsidiary in exchange for favoring the company in the facility-approval process.

In response to the situation, the KSF on Feb. 25 dismissed four of its members currently under investigation by prosecutors over corruption allegations. Those included former national team coach, Rho Min-sang.

BY CHOI HYUNG-JO [choi.hyungjo@joongang.co.kr]

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