SEOUL, July 29 (UPI) — A senior South Korean prosecutor and a leading business executive were charged with bribery Friday as the country prepares to enforce a new anti-graft law.
Jin Kyung-Joon, 49, a vice minister-level official in South Korea’s federal government, was indicted for allegedly receiving cash bribes of about $800,000, from 2005 to 2014, from Kim Jung-ju, founder of the online gaming company Nexon. Jin allegedly used the money to buy Nexon stock, which he later sold back to the company for more than $11 million. Kim was also indicted.
An annual financial disclosure of personal wealth, required of all government officials, showed Jin’s income increased dramatically in 2015.
A new law, to reduce bribery and corruption of South Korean officials, takes effect in September and makes it illegal for government officials, teachers or journalists to accept more than $900 annually. The tightening of the rules comes after the 2014 sinking of a ferry boat in which nearly 300 people died; collusion between the ship’s operator and government officials was judged partially responsible for the incident.
South Korea has long struggled with the issue of government and business corruption. It placed 37th in Transparency International’s annual ranking of countries perceived to have the least amount of corruption, worse than Japan, which has similar business practices and was in 18th place. Denmark is perceived to be the least corrupt country in the world, coming in at No. 1, while Somalia came in last at 167. The United States was 16th in the index.
Earlier this month a member of the family controlling Lotte Group, a major South Korean conglomerate, was charged with bribery and similar offenses, as were two professional baseball players who allegedly fixed games for a gambling broker. High-ranking executives of Samsung Electronics Company and Hyundai Motor Company were convicted of white-collar crimes, and the head of South Korea’s second-largest opposition political party resigned in June amid allegations of receiving illegal payments by the National Election Commission.