Fraud sentence stands against ex-Doosan boss

Joongang Daily February 23, 2007 The Supreme Court has upheld a lower court ruling that sentenced Park Yong-oh, a former Doosan Group chairman, to a three-year suspended jail term for embezzlement.Mr. Park, 69, was convicted by the Seoul Central District Court a year ago of embezzling 29.7 billion won ($31.5 million) from the business group between 1996 and 2005. Last July an appeals court upheld the three-year jail sentence, suspended for five years, and 8 billion won in fines. Kim Ji-hyeong, presiding justice of the top court, said the lower court ruling was “acceptable,” convicting Mr. Park of using the slush funds from Doosan Industrial Development Co. to pay interest on the company’s bank debts, in collusion with his younger brothers, including Park Yong-sung. Doosan Industrial Development is the construction arm of the conglomerate. “Park Yong-oh’s direct involvement in accounting fraud is also recognizable based on the fact that he

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Four oil companies fined for price rigging

Korea Herald Feb. 23, 2007 The Fair Trade Commission yesterday slapped fines of 52.6 billion won ($54.5 million) on four major oil refineries for illegal price-fixing. The antitrust watchdog said SK Corp., Hyundai Oilbank Corp., GS Caltex Corp. and S-Oil Corp. were found to have conspired to raise prices of petroleum products such as gasoline, diesel and kerosene in 2004. The FTC also decided to file a complaint against the four companies to the prosecution. “The oil cartel, between April 1 and June 10, is estimated to have caused customer damage amounting to 240 billion won, or 15 percent of the companies’ total sales,” the FTC said. The four refiners’ combined sales from April to June were 1.6 trillion won, it said. “The refiners are suspected of fixing prices for longer periods but as of yet, we only have evidence of illegal practices during those two months.” The oil companies

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153 indicted in gaming scandal

Korea Herald Feb. 23, 2007 ‘Sea Story’ scandal nabs 153 Prosecutors said today they have arrested 45 people and indicted 108 without detention in connection with an illegal arcade gaming scandal that erupted last year. The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office today announced the results of its six-month probe into the “Sea Story” scandal, involving lawmakers, high-ranking government officials, gang members, arcade businesspeople and gift certificate issuers. A popular video slot game, “The Sea Story” was outlawed last year because arcades were found to be rigging the machines to raise betting stakes above the legal limit. Prosecutors then launched extraordinary investigations after realizing many other gaming machines were also operated illegally across the nation. Rep. Kim Jae-hong of the governing Uri Party was recently indicted without detention on charges of receiving 30 million won ($31,000) between last May and June from an arcade businessman in favor of influencing legislation to

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FTC expands price-fixing probe in education market

Korea Herald Feb. 22, 2007 The Fair Trade Commission is expanding an investigation into the education sector amidst speculation over possible cartels and abuses of market dominance to raise prices of textbooks, school uniforms and tuition fees. In addition to its examination of high-priced textbooks sold by the state-funded Educational Broadcasting System last year, the antitrust watchdog is probing a suspected cartel of school uniform suppliers. The FTC is currently discussing whether the alleged textbook overpricing is a case of misusing market dominance. “We cannot say whether EBS violated the Fair Trade Law yet because some of its textbooks are cheaper than those of other publishers,” said a high-ranking official of the FTC. The antitrust panel recently said that it is closely looking into whether the tuition increase at universities involves cartels. There have been suspicions that authorities of different universities met to discuss the tuition issue. “Universities can be

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Former Aide Accuses Ex-Mayor of Bribery

Korea Times Feb. 22, 2007 By Kim Sue-young Staff Reporter Kim Yoo-chan A former secretary of Lee Myung-bak, a strong presidential hopeful of the main opposition Grand National Party (GNP) and a former Seoul mayor, Wednesday detailed a case of bribery. In a press conference, Kim Yoo-chan said Lee is not entitled to become president and that made him come forward to present evidence of illegal actions. “Lee Kwang-chol, a former secretary to Lee, gave me a total amount of 125 million won for perjury,” Kim said. “Lee (Myung-bak) concentrates on making himself a national hero, and people are cheated by his fabrication.” Kim said he testified falsely in court that he was given 300 million won from the former mayor’s rival in the general elections in 1996. Lee Myung-bak’s aides made him tell this lie, he said. The former secretary said Lee Myung-bak would have been arrested if he

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Sexual Violence on Children Rises 33%

Korea Times Feb. 22, 2007 By Bae Ji-sook Staff Reporter Child molestation is becoming a serious social problem with the number of cases of sexual violence on children under 13 increasing every year. In 2006, the number of victims under 13 was 980 or 6.4 percent of the total of 15,326 reported cases of sexual violence, according to the National Police Agency. This represents a significant rise from 738 or 5.5 percent of 13,446 cases in 2005 and 721 or 5.1 percent of 14,089 cases in 2004. However, the figure does not show the actual situation well according to some specialists as the victims are young and cannot express what happened to them. Also not everybody takes legal steps against the assaulters. According to the Sunflower Children’s Center, a state-funded clinic dealing with child sex abuse cases, only 25.9 percent of parents of the 1,088 child victims take legal action

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FTC plans a monopoly investigation of 3 portals

JoongAng Ilbo Feb. 21, 2007 As early as next month, the Fair Trade Commission will begin investigating whether three major Internet portals, Daum, Naver and Nate, are a monopoly.“We will form a task force team and begin a direct-authority investigation on the Internet portal companies,” said Lee Dong-gyu, secretary general of the Fair Trade Commission. The watchdog agency said it feels the influence of the top portals is growing rapidly in the market.The concern is that they are using their dominant position to overcharge content providers, such as a company that writes horoscopes.On a radio talk show yesterday on the Buddhist Broadcasting System, Mr. Lee said the Fair Trade Commission hurried up its plans to start researching the Internet portals because it considered the issue to be timely. In the case of Naver, Daum and Nate, the three portals took more than 80 percent of all sales, mostly from advertising,

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Ten Petrochemical Companies Fined For Price Fixing

Chosun Ilbo Editorial Feb 21, 2007 Price Fixing Is a Serious Crime. The Fair Trade Commission has fined 10 petrochemical companies W105.1 billion (US$1=W939) for price rigging between 1994 and 2005. The firms including SK Corp., LG Chemicals and Samsung Petrochemicals were found to have held monthly executive meetings to set standard sales prices and “monitored” each other to make sure nobody undercut them. The FTC estimates the price-fixing cost consumers an estimated W1.56 trillion due to steady increases in prices of vinyl and plastic products. Price fixing is a serious offense that shakes the very foundations of a free market economy. Companies no longer strive to make better yet more affordable products and consumers end up with the short end of the stick. That’s why the United States, Europe and other advanced countries treat price-fixing as a serious crime. In 1999, an international price-fixing scheme involving vitamins was discovered.

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Court rules against ‘Lolita’ defense in pedophilia case

Korea Herald Feb. 20, 2007 Court rules against ‘Lolita’ defense in pedophilia case The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that a mental illness involving sexual obsession with children cannot be an excuse for lessened punishment for sexual violence against children.The top court returned a molestation case to an appellant court for a retrial. The appellant court had reduced a life sentence imprisonment penalty to 15 years after recognizing the offender had so-called Lolita syndrome, or sexual attraction to prepubescent children. The 39-year-old defendant, identified as Lee, was accused of raping 12 elementary school girls and stealing their money and other articles between February 2005 and January of last year.A lower court handed down a life imprisonment to Lee, but a High Court excused him for having the syndrome, more commonly known as pedophilia. “But a disease itself is not a mental and physical disorder that could be an excuse to lessen

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JU Group chief gets 12 years in jail

Korea Herald Feb. 21, 2007 JU Group chief gets 12 years in jail A Seoul lower court yesterday sentenced the chairman of JU Group, the nation’s biggest multilevel marketing firm, to 12 years in prison for fraud and embezzlement.Joo Soo-do, 51, was arrested last July on charges of deceiving over 110,000 people in a fraud case of 1.8 trillion won ($1.9 billion), instructing them to illegally pay a total of 130 billion won to JU Group’s affiliates and misappropriating 28.4 billion won of company funds.Between 2003 and 2005, he also allegedly ordered his staffers to manipulate the computer transaction system to provide higher returns for certain influential people or their families, who joined the firm as sale agents. Joo pleaded not guilty on all accusations. “It was inevitable to impose a severe punishment against the defendant as he exerted an evil influence on society,” Judge Choi Gyu-hong ruled. “Not only

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North Korea Enacts Law Against Money Laundering;Intelligence Agency Says Pyongyang Has Highly Enriched Uranium Program

Korea Times Feb 21, 2007 North Korea Enacts Law Against Money LaunderingIntelligence Agency Says Pyongyang Has Highly Enriched Uranium Program By Park Song-wuStaff Reporter The National Intelligence Service (NIS) on Tuesday confirmed that North Korea recently enacted a law that prohibits money laundering. The standing committee of the North’s Supreme People’s Assembly adopted the legislation last October to ban financial transactions involving illegal earnings, the agency said in a press release. The enactment apparently aimed at settling the U.S. financial sanctions on a bank in Macau that was blacklisted by Washington in September 2005 for its suspicious role in helping the North conduct illicit financial activities, it said. Under the latest six-party agreement, reached on Feb. 13, the United States is to resolve financial sanctions within 30 days on North Korean assets worth $24 million that have been frozen in the Macau bank. The NIS also confirmed that the North

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