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Ex-spy chief gets 2 years in prison for taking bribes from businessman
JANUARY 23, 2014 06:54  
A Seoul court on Wednesday sentenced Won Sei-hoon, former director of the National Intelligence Service, to two years behind bars and a fine of some 162.75 million won (149,953 U.S. dollars) for accepting kickbacks from a businessman while in office. Won was found guilty of taking some 160 million won (150,000 dollars) in bribes from Hwang Bo-yeon, the former head of Hwangbo Construction in exchange for influence peddling between 2009 and 2010.

The case is separate from the ongoing trial, in which won was accused of violating election law by ordering some of his agents to use the Internet to influence public opinion in favor of President Park Geun-hye, the then ruling party candidate, ahead of the 2012 presidential election.

Judge Lee Beom-gyun at the Seoul Central District Court said in his ruling that although there is no hard evidence because the money was handed over when the two were alone, Won`s bribery taking is supported by Hwang`s "concrete" accounts of handing over the money in wine cases at the Lotte Hotel and the circumstantial evidence that Won used his credit card at the hotel on the same day.

However, the court did not recognize a gold sculpture and a crystal tiger that Hwang gave to Won as bribes, as Hwang claimed that they were "birthday presents."

Won was arrested in July last year on charges of having received the money from Hwang in return for helping the latter`s company win major construction deals.

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