A former director general of the Ministry of Health and Welfare received a prison term for receiving substantial kickbacks and entertainment from Gachon Univesity Gil Medical Center.
The Seoul Central District Court on Tuesday sentenced the ex-government official, who had been indicted on charges of bribery, to eight years in prison and a fine of 400 million won ($357,000), along with 350 million won additional collection charge.
When the former official was the director of the ministry’s healthcare technology development department, he received more than 350 million won from Gil hospital in return for giving information about the government’s budget for the selection of research-centered hospitals and the target number of hospitals.
In March 2013, the ministry designated Gil hospital as a research-centered institution and granted 5 billion won.
The ex-official received entertainment, including golf rounding and drinks, offered by the hospital. Then, he received the hospital’s corporate credit cards, each with a monthly limit of 5 million won, in March 2013 and had used them until December of last year.
He received eight cards under the name of Gil hospital and used them at golf clubs, bars, hotels, designer shops and sports clubs.
The Gil hospital reportedly changed the card when the purchases became large, to avoid any suspicion from outsiders.
The former official admitted using the cards but refuted that using the cards were irrelevant to his work. However, the court did not accept his claim.
“If a public servant who oversees a hospital received entertainment from the hospital and used the hospital’s corporate cards, it is enough to conclude that his government work could become unfair,” the court said. “Even if the hospital did not overtly ask him to choose it as a research-centered hospital, the profits he took and his work were correlated. The ex-director general seems to have been aware that receiving grafts would affect his work.”
The court went on to say that although the ex-official should have maintained integrity, he received a bribe from hospital officials who were directly related to his duties and damaged the credibility in the government work significantly.
“As the ex-official have raked a large amount of benefits for a long time and demanded the hospital issue him corporate cards first, he committed a grave offense,” the court added.
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