Senior S. Korean prosecutor arrested for alleged corruption

AP News
Posted: Jul 18, 2016 5:16 AM
Senior S. Korean prosecutor arrested for alleged corruption

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — A senior South Korean prosecutor has been arrested for allegedly pocketing millions of dollars following shady stock transaction deals with a leading online game maker, officials said Monday.

Jin Kyung-joon, a vice ministerial-level official, was taken to a detention facility on Sunday after a court approved an arrest warrant, according to the Seoul Central District Court. He is the most senior-level incumbent prosecutor to be arrested in South Korea.

South Korea, which achieved a liberal democracy in the late 1980s after decades of military-backed dictatorships, is one of the leading economies in Asia. But corruption scandals involving high-profile officials, politicians and businessmen routinely take place.

Many South Korean presidents or their family members and key aides have been embroiled in corruption scandals at the close of their terms or after leaving office. Some high-level prosecutors were forced to resign before they were arrested and put behind bars for bribery, abuse of power and other charges.

Last year, then-Prime Minster Lee Wan Koo pledged to root out corruption, only to resign a month later after he was implicated in a widening bribery scandal involving a late businessman.

Jin faces allegations that he borrowed 400 million won ($352,000) from Kim Jungju, the founder of Nexon, to buy unlisted company shares in 2005 before selling them back to the company for 1 billion won ($881,000) the following year.

He allegedly used the profits to purchase shares of Nexon Japan in later 2006 and earned 12.6 billion won ($11 million) by selling them last year. The company went public on the Japanese stock market in 2011.

A date on Jin's trial will be set if and after prosecutors indict him. Prosecutors previously summoned and questioned Kim but haven't requested his arrest yet, according to court officials.

Nexon, known for hit games like "MapleStory" and "Dungeon & Fighter," has about 300 million users in about 150 countries, according to Nexon officials. Its founder Kim is one of South Korea's richest men with an estimated 4 trillion won ($3.5 billion) of wealth.

Jin and Kim had reportedly maintained good relations after attending university together. Local media reported that Kim was believed to have expected to get future favors from Jin.

Justice Minister Kim Hyun-Woong, who oversees prosecutors, offered a public apology Monday for a second straight day. "As a justice minister, I feel deeply shameful and devastated," Kim said in televised comments.