October 31, 2007 09:28
The Seoul Western District Prosecutors' Office on Tuesday indicted the disgraced curator Shin Jeong-ah and the former chief presidential policy secretary Byeon Yang-kyoon, who are at the heart of a fake-degree and influence-peddling scandal that has rocked the corridors of power.
Koo Bon-min, the deputy chief of the Seoul Western District Prosecutors' Office, said Shin “damaged the foundations of knowledge society” by lying about her credentials, and the case “compromised the transparency of the government's financial management.” He said Byeon “was involved at almost every step” in the case that started with Shin’s forgery of her academic qualifications.
In an interim report, prosecutors said they investigated suspected involvement of a third senior figure to account for Shin’s stellar rise in the art world and her luxurious lifestyle “but found no evidence pointing to the involvement of any figure other than Byeon." Byeon is charged with malfeasance and obstruction of official duties for having peddled his influence so Shin could be appointed as art director of the Gwangju Biennale, Korea’s leading contemporary art event, despite knowing that her Yale degrees were fake.
Prosecutors say they also have testimony from the former Ssangyong Group chairman Kim Suk-won that he bribed Byeon to put in a good word for him while he stood trial for embezzlement and malfeasance last year. Kim allegedly gave Byeon some W400-500 million (US$1=W907) in total. The money changed hands on three to four occasions from around March 2006 until February 2007, when he was granted clemency under a special presidential pardon.
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