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Former KORAIL chief gets jail term over illegal political funds

All News 15:30 July 21, 2016

SEOUL, July 21 (Yonhap) -- A former chief of South Korea's state-run rail operator was sentenced to jail Thursday for receiving illegal political funds from a businessman.

The Seoul Central District Court sentenced Huh Joon-young to 10 months in prison, suspended for two years, for receiving a total of 80 million won (US$70,000) from a man identified only by his surname Sohn, between April 2012 and September 2014. The court also ordered Huh to forfeit the money.

The 63-year-old was indicted in April on charges of receiving 20 million won in bribes from Sohn in 2011, in return for helping him clinch business contracts related to a now-scrapped urban development plan in Seoul's Yongsan district in addition to the illegal political funds allegations.

The Korea Railroad Corp. (KORAIL) was behind the 31-trillion-won project meant to transform the area near the Yongsan Station into an international business hub. The project fell through in 2013.

The court, however, acquitted him of bribery charges, saying the 20 million won cannot be deemed as bribes as Huh was soon to resign as the chief of the rail operator and was planning to run for the 19th general elections.

Huh, who had been working in the position since 2009, actually stepped down in December 2011, a month after the money was delivered.

"The two people did not talk about the development plan but only talked about the election when the money was given," the court said. "There is a high possibility that Huh would have regarded it as political funds to support the campaign."

Huh, who served as South Korea's chief of police before becoming the head of the rail operator, has been in custody since early April as the court issued a warrant to formally arrest him.


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