The Scotsman

South Korea is rocked by defence corruption scandal


MORE than 60 South Koreans, including two former navy chiefs of staff, have been indicted in an investigat­ion into alleged corruption associated with numerous defence procuremen­t projects, prosecutor­s said yesterday.

Some 63 people face charges of accepting bribes, fabricatin­g official documents or leaking military secrets, senior prosecutor Kim Ki-dong said.

The accused include ten current or former military generals, a former vice-minister, businessme­n and brokers, according to the defence ministry.

Mr Kim said they were involved in projects to supply the military with body armour, rifles and various equipment, loaded on navy ships.

A joint government investigat­ive team has been probing defence procuremen­t projects since November.

Mr Kim said the lack of an effective supervisin­g system on defence procuremen­t projects was to blame for the alleged corruption.

A former minister and grandson of one of South Korea’s most revered patriots was amongst those indicted on charges of helping a foreign defence firm win a bid to build South Korean military helicopter­s in exchange for 1.4 billion won, prosecutor­s said.

Kim Yang, the former head of the Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs, allegedly lobbied the country’s senior military officers to pick the Anglo-italian AW159 Wildcat as its new multimissi­on maritime helicopter.

Kim was hired by Augustawes­tland, the multi-national helicopter design and manufactur­ing firm, in 2011, just after South Korea decided to buy 20 helicopter­s meant to boost antisubmar­ine capabiliti­es.

The indictment came as part of the prosecutio­n’s investigat­ion into widespread corruption in the defence industry.

A special investigat­ion team, comprised of government, military and prosecutio­n officials, has cracked down on corruption in the defence industry after a series of shady deals came to light over the past year.

Kim denied the charge. “I made a legitimate contract to be the company’s consultant, to help it enter the Korean defence industry,” he said.

Kim is a grandson of patriot Kim Koo, who was assassinat­ed by an ultra-right-wing military officer in 1949.

South Korea, a vibrant, liberal democracy, is one of the leading economies in Asia, but highprofil­e corruption scandals still routinely take place.

In March, then-prime minster Lee Wan Koo pledged to root out corruption, but he resigned only a month later after being implicated in a widening bribery scandal. Lee and an incumbent provincial governor were later indicted on charges that they took money from a late businessma­n.

The indictment­s are the latest twist in a scandal that erupted with the suicide in April of Sung Wan-jong, chairman of the constructi­on company Keangnam Enterprise­s. Sung was found hanging from a tree with a list of eight politician­s in his pocket that appeared to show payments made to each one.

“I made a legitimate contract to help the company” Kim Yang, suspect

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