Police ask prosecution to charge KT CEO, execs

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Police ask prosecution to charge KT CEO, execs

The police recommended the prosecution charge KT’s CEO and seven former and current executives without detention for allegedly lobbying 99 members of the National Assembly on Thursday.

According to National Police Agency’s intellectual crime team, Hwang Chang-gyu, CEO of KT and seven other former and current company executives, “allegedly sponsored 99 members of the National Assembly illegally for four years, from 2014 to 2018.”

KT spent 437.9 million won ($389,890) on the bribes, which went to lawmakers in both the governing and opposition parties. The crime team also reported that KT was “sneaky” while it tried to hide the sources of the funding. Since it is illegal for an incorporated company to make political donations, KT initially bought gift certificates and cashed them to create slush funds.

Then they divided the funds under the name of staff members and their families in order to hide the source of the funds. This allowed KT to evade the police for four years. Hwang denied the allegation, saying that the crime was an arbitrary action committed by other departments and that he had “no idea that this was going on.”

The Assembly members who also received the donation echoed Hwang’s response, claiming that they had “no clue that the donation money was from KT.”

On Jan. 31 last year, the police raided KT offices after receiving a tip in November 2017.

Four more searches were conducted at the headquarters of KT, located in the Bundang area of Seongnam, Gyeonggi, and KT’s office in Gwanghwamun, central Seoul. The police, after acquiring documents such as a financial data report by the National Election Commission and documents on the funders’ bank accounts, requested arrest warrants from the court, only to be rejected on June 20 last year.

“If there needs to be a charge pressed for an allegation that involves both the funder and the receiver for an illegal funding crime, there needs to be enough evidence that the receiver also received such funding,” a source at the prosecution said. “Because the case lacks data on the receivers, we decided that the investigation had not been thorough, therefore we came to the conclusion not to seek a warrant.”

The police requested another arrest warrant two months later, but it was rejected again. A source at the prosecution claimed that “there is no need to imprison the suspects since they are denying all of their allegations, and thus we have no concern that they will escape or destroy the related evidence.”

BY LEE HAE-SUN [lee.haesun@joongang.co.kr]
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