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Arms procurement chief resigns over bribery scandal

Chang Soo-man, commissioner of the Defense Acquisition Program Agency, has tendered his resignation over his alleged involvement in a high-profile bribery scandal, a government source said Wednesday.

“The DAPA commissioner expressed his wish to step down in the morning. He appears to have offered to resign due to the controversy over whether he is involved in the scandal,” said the source on condition of anonymity.

Chang is suspected of taking tens of millions of won in kickbacks from the 64-year-old broker, who had allegedly secured lucrative contracts to run canteens at construction sites through bribery. Chang has so far denied the allegations.
Chang Soo-man
Chang Soo-man

In a message posted on the DAPA bulletin board, Chang explained why he decided to step down.

“I have decided to resign as I believe the prodigious missions the DAPA is carrying out should not face any setbacks because of me any more,” he said.

“The allegations circulating in the media are certainly embarrassing regardless of whether they are true or not.”

The broker, surnamed Yu, was arrested in November 2010 and indicted in December on bribery charges.

After winning the contracts, Yu sold them to catering firms, making a tidy sum of money in the process. He purportedly bribed dozens of people, including former and incumbent ranking government officials, provincial chiefs, public corporation heads and large construction firm owners.

The prosecution also secured a statement from a tax attorney ― who was recently arrested for violating the law governing the operation of lawyers ― that Chang asked him to keep cash and gift certificates ― worth 18 million won ($16,060).

Investigators are said to suspect the money could be part of the kickbacks Chang received from Yu.

Along with Kang Man-soo, special presidential secretary for economic affairs, Chang has been regarded as one of the architects of the president’s “MBnomics” prioritizing growth, deregulation and market opening.

Since taking office as vice defense minister in January 2009, Chang led the task of improving the country’s defense procurement system.

He took the helm of the state acquisition agency in August 2010. Since then, he carried out a variety of programs to improve export routes for the domestic defense industry.

Until a new chief takes office, vice DAPA chief Kwon O-bong is expected to lead the agency.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)
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