Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Elite school foundation head grilled over admission corruption in Korea

The head of a school foundation that runs one of Seoul's top private middle schools appeared before prosecutors Tuesday to face questioning over admission corruption allegations.

Kim Ha-joo, the chairman of the board of Younghoon International Middle School, is accused of accepting bribes from parents in exchange for giving their children unlawful admission, prosecutors said. Kim also allegedly falsified test records to grant enrollment to certain unqualified students.

Prosecutors suspect that the disgraced chairman also embezzled some 1.27 billion won (US$1.09 million) in foundation funds for personal use, they added.

The elite school has been under scrutiny after media reported that a grandson of Samsung Electronics Co. Chairman Lee Kun-hee allegedly earned an admission with tampered test results, prompting the chairman's son, Jay Y. Lee to issue an apology.

Kim showed up at the Seoul Northern District Prosecutors' Office around 9:30 a.m. to be quizzed over charges of business malpractice, breach of trust and fraud.

The probe comes after the Seoul municipal education office charged Younghoon and another prestigious private school, Daewon International Middle School, with the prosecution.

Wrapping up a special audit, the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education last month ordered the two schools to punish faculty members accused of having been involved in admission corruption, while referring 11 officials, including Kim, to the prosecution.

"Kim was found to have allegedly committed more embezzlement," an official close to the investigation said, adding that prosecutors plan to request an arrest warrant for him.

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