Art linked to prosecutor examined

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Art linked to prosecutor examined

Prosecutors discovered artworks that may have served as bribes at the home of a relative of Jin Kyung-joon, a senior prosecutor mired in a major corruption scandal involving Nexon, the country’s largest game developer.

Jin, 49, is being investigated after the Government Public Ethics Committee accused him of benefitting from shady stock transactions with Nexon since 2005. Earlier this month, a local court approved pretrial detention for Jin, making him the first director-level official to be detained in the 68-year history of modern Korea.

Lee Keum-ro, head of the Incheon District Prosecutors Office, was named special prosecutor to investigate Jin on July 6. According to a source on Lee’s team, prosecutors discovered that Jin used his mother-in-law’s bank account to receive some money from Nexon co-founder Kim Jung-ju to purchase the company’s shares in 2005 when they were unlisted.

Jin received 425 million won ($373,626) from Nexon’s Kim to make the investment, and 250 million won of the money was deposited in his mother-in-law’s account.

With Kim’s money, Jin bought Nexon shares in 2005 and sold them in 2006 for 1 billion won. With the profit, he bought shares of Nexon Japan in 2006 and sold them last year for 12.6 billion won. In 2011, Nexon stocks were registered on the Japanese stock market and the number of shares expanded due to a stock split.

As a part of the probe, Lee’s team raided Jin’s mother-in-law’s house on July 20 and discovered about 10 pieces of expensive art. The prosecutors are questioning Jin on whether he received them from Nexon or they were given by a third party.

“The mother-in-law insisted that she bought them, but she failed to state where she bought some of them and how she financed the purchases,” the source said. “We are investigating how they ended up at her house.” The prosecution said it will ask a local court to prevent Jin’s family from selling the art until Jin’s case is tried and ruled by a court. Last week, the prosecution asked the Seoul Central District Court to confiscate Jin’s 14 billion won of assets even before an indictment. A law governing the seizure of assets of a public servant accused of a crime allows the government to confiscate properties before an indictment.

BY HYUN IL-HOON [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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