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Former Pres. Secretary Gets 6 Years for Graft

Posted August. 26, 2009 08:21,   


Former presidential secretary Jung Sang-moon was sentenced to six years in prison yesterday for conviction on bribery charges.

Jung was found guilty of taking 400 million won (320,700 U.S. dollars) in bribes from former Taekwang Industrial Chairman Park Yeon-cha and embezzling 1.2 billion won (960,000 dollars) from the presidential budget.

The Seoul Central District Court upheld most of the charges against Jung in his first trial and sentenced him to six years in prison and 1.64 billion won (1.32 million dollars) in fines.

“Jung said he received 300 million won (240,000 dollars) in cash at the request of then First Lady Kwon Yang-sook (wife of former President Roh Moo-hyun) but Park said he never heard of it and was consistent in his claim that he gave money to Jung,” the ruling said.

On the embezzlement charge, the court said, “Preserving the money in another person’s name led not only to losses from the national coffers but also to the crime of embezzlement.”

“Though Jung’s crime is serious enough to warrant life imprisonment, we considered that he committed crimes on behalf of former President Roh Moo-hyun’s family and got involved in illegal activities related to his job as presidential secretary.”

As a witness, Park’s former secretary attended the trial of Lee Gwang-jae, lawmaker of the main opposition Democratic Party who is charged with taking political bribes from Park. The former secretary’s calendar and diary are important clues in investigating the bribery scandal since they included information on when and where Park met with political and economic leaders.

“Lotte Hotel, 38th floor, Lee” written on April 17, 2006, on the calendar refers to the meeting with the legislator, the secretary said in the open trial, adding, “I’ve never been ordered to prepare money for Lee but I know Park always kept tens of thousands of dollars in his bag.”

Park said in a recent trial, “I put 50,000 dollars in the closet to give to Lee at a hotel restaurant.”

Lee, however, denied the allegation, saying, “He tried to give me the money but I strongly refused.”