Jun’s ex-aide asked Lotte to form e-sports team: source

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Jun’s ex-aide asked Lotte to form e-sports team: source

A source from Lotte Homeshopping has told prosecutors during questioning that a former aide to Jun Byung-hun, President Moon Jae-in’s senior secretary for political affairs, pressured the shopping channel to establish an e-sports team in May 2015, when Jun was chairman of the Korea e-Sports Association (Kespa).

At that time, the aide was working as a secretary for Jun, who in addition to his role at Kespa was a lawmaker representing Dongjak District, southern Seoul.

At the National Assembly, Jun was a member of the Future Planning, Broadcasting and Communications Committee, which had considerable influence over the government’s decision to renew business licenses for home shopping channels.

The aide’s request to establish an e-sports team came shortly after Lotte Homeshopping had its business license renewed for three years by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, according to the Lotte source.

The latest testimony, which prosecutors exclusively shared with the JoongAng Ilbo on Wednesday, came as authorities are looking into how and why the shopping channel donated 300 million won ($269,000) to Kespa in 2015, and whether it was in return for any business favors from Jun, such as the license renewal.

Jun led the association from January 2014 to last May, but has denied any involvement in the bribery allegations, which erupted Tuesday when the former aide was arrested along with two others.

The secretary’s suggestion to form an e-sports team was turned down by Lotte Homeshopping, according to the internal source, because it was estimated that doing so would have cost 1 billion won, far more than it could manage.

Instead, the company donated 300 million won to an amateur e-sports game hosted by Kespa in July 2015, the 2015 KeSPA Cup Season 2. Lotte Homeshopping has denied that the transaction was in return for any favors.

Prosecutors believe Jun’s secretary, another aide who worked in Jun’s parliamentary office and a broker, all of whom were arrested Tuesday, pocketed one-third of the Lotte donation.

Jun’s secretary could have implicitly pressured Lotte Homeshopping to make the donation, prosecutors said, because as soon as the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning renewed the company’s license, he summoned an official from the ministry to say that the government would have botched its evaluation of the channel if it had not looked into the former CEO’s malpractices.

A pre-trial detention warrant is expected to be requested for all three suspects by this morning.

BY PARK SARA, LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]
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