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First lady's cousin gets 2-year prison term in bribery case

All Headlines 17:01 April 27, 2012

SEOUL, April 27 (Yonhap) -- A cousin of President Lee Myung-bak's wife was sentenced Friday to two years in prison and 390 million won (US$348,900) in fines on charges of receiving bribes from a troubled savings bank in return for influence peddling, court officials said.

The 72-year-old Kim Jae-hong, the cousin of first lady Kim Yoon-ok, was convicted of taking 390 million won from the chairman of Jeil Savings Bank in exchange for lobbying for the troubled bank's survival, according to the Seoul Central District Court.

Despite the lobbying, the bank had its business suspended by the financial regulator in September due to its capital shortage.

"Kim insists that no strings were attached to the money he received. But the amount was too large to be considered as a goodwill payment. As an in-law of the president, Kim was also supposed to be vigilant against favoritism," the court said in a ruling. "However, (the court) took it into consideration that Kim has no criminal record, did not ask for money first, and has contributed to society by doing welfare work."

Kim, a former chief of state-run tobacco distributor KT&G Corp, currently heads a welfare foundation under the company.

The ruling is the second case in which a relative of the president's wife has been convicted of influence peddling. In 2009, another cousin of the first lady was sentenced to three years in jail for taking billions of won in kickbacks in exchange for election nominations and employment opportunities at state-run businesses.

khj@yna.co.kr
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