The South Korean police on Wednesday raided the Ministry of Health and Welfare and Gacheon University Gil Medical Center over allegations that a high-ranking government official received bribes from the hospital, local news reports said.
“The police raided the hospital on Wednesday. But the raid was not on the health ministry in Sejong Government Complex but the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” said a health ministry official.
“Other than that, we are checking facts.”
The high-ranking official facing the police investigation was not from the health ministry but the KCDC, he said.
However, the ministry is bracing for circumstances where the police might also probe on the ministry’s public healthcare policy division, which is in charge of research-centered hospitals.
“As the police investigation is in progress, we are seeing where it leads. We will have to wait for a final result of the investigation,” an official at the ministry’s public healthcare policy division said.
“We’re preparing in many ways but I can’t comment further,” the official said.
The health ministry could not publicly prepare to respond measure due to the ongoing police investigation but reportedly braced for a case where the ministry could be confirmed to have illegally intervened in selecting Gil hospital as a research-centered one.
The Gil Medical Center had been selected as a research-centered hospital, specializing in senile brain diseases (dementia, stroke, Parkinson's disease), metabolic diseases (obesity, diabetes, hyperlipidemia), in 2013 when the ministry first picked such hospitals.
When the ministry in 2014 began supporting finances for research-centered hospitals, the Gil hospital was picked, along with Seoul National University Hospital and Severance Hospital.
A government official faces punishment if he or she takes a bribe.
Under the Korean law, if a public official receives, demands, or promises a bribe, he or she can be imprisoned for up to five years or suspended from the job for up to 10 years.
If a public official received, demanded, or promised a bribe before serving the public, the official can face imprisonment for up to three years or suspension from the job for up to 7 years.
If a public official receives a bribe and makes another person receive a bribe, or demands or promises a bribe, the official can be imprisoned for up to five years or suspended from the job for up to 10 years.
If an official receives a bribe after engaging in an improper act in the course of performing his or her duties on acceptance of a solicitation made during incumbency, the official can be imprisoned for up to five years or suspended from the job for up to 10 years.
If a public official receives, demands or agrees to receive a bribe by taking advantage of his or her post, the official can be imprisoned for up to three years or suspended from the job for up to seven years.
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