By Yi Whan-woo
The Ulsan District Prosecutors’ Office said Tuesday that it arrested and indicted 22 senior officials of the state-run nuclear energy company on charges of taking bribes from subcontractors.
The indicted officials of the Korea Hydro Nuclear Power (KHNP) are two vice presidents and four senior managers at the company’s headquarter in Seoul, and 16 manager-level engineers at local plants.
This is the first time that more than 20 senior officials from one state firm have been arrested in a single corruption case.
The arrest came amid a series of bribery allegations involving the KHNP employees since February, when there was a power outage at a reactor of the Gori-1 Nuclear Power Plant in Busan.
The blackout did not cause any damage but investigators discovered that the five chief engineers of the plant tried to cover up the incident. The prosecution has launched an investigation since then to look into corruption allegations surrounding the KHNP officials across the country, and found out a number of them accepted money from subcontractors in return for business favor.
The prosecution said one of the two vice presidents, only identified as Kim, is suspected of taking 70 million won ($61,290) from two subcontractors. The other vice president, identified as Lee, allegedly received 10 million won ($8,750) from a different subcontractor.
The 16 manager-level engineers are suspected of taking up to 450 million won ($393,700) in total from subcontractors.
The prosecution said some of the subcontractors had supplied defective goods including engines and pressure gauges for years. Prosecutors also indicted nine subcontractors and brokers for offering bribes to the KHNP officials.
Meanwhile, the Ulsan District Court handed down one-year prison sentence to a manager-level engineer of the Gori-2 Nuclear Power Plant in the city for bribery. It also ordered him to pay 14.8 million won ($12,940) in fine.
The court found that the 42-year-old engineer surnamed Choi received 5 million won ($4,300) in cash in 2011 from a subcontractor who supplied maintenance goods to the plant. Choi also took 9.8 million won from another sub-contractor who supplied physical laborers, the court said.
The court also ordered the confiscation of the money Choi accepted.