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(LEAD) Ex-Busan vice mayor indicted in bribery case

National 16:42 December 13, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with indictment; RECASTS headline, lead, photo caption)

SEOUL, Dec. 13 (Yonhap) -- Prosecutors on Friday indicted a former vice mayor of Busan, South Korea's largest port city, who is suspected of receiving bribes while he worked at the state financial regulator.

The Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors Office said Yoo Jae-soo, the city's former vice mayor of economic affairs, was indicted on numerous charges including bribery.

Yoo is suspected of receiving bribes worth a combined 49.5 million won (US$42,235) from four financial firms in various forms such as golf clubs and expenses for flight and gift purchases during his term at the Financial Services Commission (FSC).

He is also accused of requesting employment for his younger sibling and an internship opportunity for his son, according to the prosecution.

The 55-year-old, who recently resigned from the vice mayoral post, has been in custody since late last month. A Seoul court issued an arrest warrant, citing the possibility of him fleeing and destroying evidence.

This composite file image shows former Busan vice mayor Yoo Jae-soo (R) and former Justice Minister Cho Kuk (C), with the flag of the prosecution on the left. (Yonhap)

Prosecutors are also looking into why the presidential office's special inspection into Yoo's case was abruptly suspended.

The former mayor was under surveillance by a special inspection team of Cheong Wa Dae over allegations that he took bribes from businesses when he served as an FSC director-general.

Yoo avoided punishment for an unknown reason, however, and became Busan's vice mayor in 2018.

Prosecutors have called in officials who are allegedly involved in or are seen to have knowledge of an alleged cover-up of the bribery case.

Regarding the special inspection, prosecutors said most of the bribery charges were affirmed or could have been affirmed during the presidential office's special inspection.

The prosecution has requested cooperation in checking Yoo and his family's overseas financial accounts to track down the source of their overseas expenditure, they added.

Earlier this month, prosecutors also executed a court-issued search warrant at Cheong Wa Dae in connection with the ongoing probe.

The raid appeared to mark the prosecution's zeroing in on former Justice Minister Cho Kuk, the former top presidential secretary for civil affairs, who supervised the special inspection team at the civil affairs unit.

Cho, who stepped down from the justice minister post in October, is currently under a separate probe over allegations related to his family. Prosecutors have not yet questioned him on the Yoo case.

Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Ko Min-jung earlier said the presidential office "faithfully cooperated" with the relevant procedures and submitted some documents and materials in consultation with the prosecution.


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