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(LEAD) Busan's ex-vice mayor arrested in bribery case

National 22:18 November 27, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with court's decision throughout, photo)

SEOUL, Nov. 27 (Yonhap) -- A Seoul court on Wednesday issued an arrest warrant for a former vice mayor of the southeastern port city of Busan on alleged bribery charges.

The court cited the possibility of the suspect fleeing and destroying evidence as reasons for ordering the warrant.

Yoo Jae-soo is alleged to have taken kickbacks worth a combined 50 million won (US$42,473) from financial firms when he worked at the state financial regulator Financial Services Commission (FSC).

State prosecutors have been probing allegations surrounding Yoo since October, raiding the FSC, as well as financial companies. They requested an arrest warrant following a 17-hour questioning earlier this month.

The 55-year-old, who recently resigned from the vice-mayoral post, showed up for the hearing at the Seoul Eastern District Court in eastern Seoul this morning.

Yoo Jae-soo, former vice mayor of Busan, is seen on his way to attend a court hearing on the prosecution's arrest warrant request at the Seoul Eastern District Court in eastern Seoul on Nov. 27, 2019. (Yonhap)

Yoo was under surveillance of a special inspection team of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae over allegations that he took bribes from businesses, including overseas study expenses and a flight ticket for his child.

But he avoided punishment for an unknown reason and became Busan's vice mayor in charge of economic affairs in 2018.

The prosecution is looking into allegations that Cho Kuk, former top presidential secretary for civil affairs, and other former Cheong Wa Dae officials may be behind the sudden end of the inspection into Yoo.

In February, a former special inspector filed a petition with the prosecution against Cho, claiming the surveillance was abruptly suspended despite alleged wrongdoing by Yoo.

If Yoo is arrested, the case may affect the prosecution's separate probe into Cho, the former justice minister whose wife is under investigation over a dubious financial investment and her daughter's college admission.

mlee@yna.co.kr
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