South Korean ex-president took millions in bribes from spy agency, say prosecutors

 Park Geun-hyeSouth Korea’s disgraced former president, Park Geun-hye, has been charged with accepting bribes amounting to millions of dollars from the country’s spy agency, according to reports. Park made history in 2013, by becoming the first woman president in South Korean history. However, almost as soon as she assumed office, her administration became embroiled in successive corruption scandals. By 2016, Park’s presidency had been brought to a standstill due to mass protests urging her removal from power, while increasing numbers of officials and administrators were refusing to work with her. She was eventually impeached in 2017, after the Constitutional Court of Korea found that she had violated the country’s laws by promoting the interests of personal friends and private corporations in return for cash and favors. She is currently in custody awaiting trial for 18 different charges, including abuse of power, coercion, blackmail and bribery.

On Thursday, government prosecutors charged Park with accepting between $50,000 and $190,000 in monthly bribes from the National Intelligence Service (NIS). The monthly sums were allegedly delivered to Park almost as soon as she assumed the nation’s presidency, in 2013, and continued until the summer of 2016. Prosecutors allege that the monthly bribes total in excess of $3 million. Prosecutors allege that the cash was delivered to Park’s aides in deserted parking lots and side streets located near the Blue House, South Korea’s presidential palace. The cash allegedly came from what the prosecutors described as “special operational funds” and was meant for highly secret undercover operations. It was therefore not subject to parliamentary oversight or annual audits, according to court documents. The secret funds were allegedly used by Mrs. Park and her aides for bribes in exchange for political favors, according to the indictment.

In November, prosecutors charged three former directors of the NIS with secretly diverting funds from the agency’s clandestine budget to Park. The three men, Nam Jae-joon, Lee Byung-kee and Lee Byung-ho, headed the NIS between 2013 and 2016, when Mrs. Park was head of state. The new charges will add two more counts, one of embezzlement of funds and one of bribery, to Park’s long list of accusations. The disgraced former president is expected to remain in custody until March 3.

Author: Ian Allen | Date: 05 January 2018 | Permalink

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Alongside CIA, British spies also bankrolling Afghan government

AfghanistanBy JOSEPH FITSANAKIS | intelNews.org |
British officials have publicly admitted that senior members of the Afghan government receive “direct cash payments” from London on a regular basis. British newspaper The Daily Telegraph reported over the weekend that the funds have been delivered to Afghan cabinet members “periodically” ever since 2001, when British troops entered Afghanistan alongside their American colleagues. The revelation comes only a week after the publication of a New York Times exposé, which disclosed that the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had delivered “tens of millions of dollars [in] off-the-books cash” to Afghanistan’s governing elite. The newspaper added that there was little evidence that such bribes had helped promote Washington’s interests in the country in any substantial way. According to British officials, London has channeled “a smaller fraction” of the amount paid by the CIA. The British funds are delivered to senior members of the government of Hamid Karzai by MI6, Britain’s foremost external intelligence agency. The funds are then allegedly spent on what Afghan government officials call “special projects”, implying that they are used as bribes to pacify local warlords, many of which are ethnic Pasthuns and belong to the Taliban. Last week, following The New York Times revelations, Mr. Karzai told the loya jirga —Afghanistan’s grand assembly— that there was “nothing unusual” about the CIA funneling money to his government. He added that he had implored the CIA’s Station Chief in Afghan capital Kabul to continue making regular payments despite popular concern in the US, as the funds were vital to the stability of the government: “we really need it”, he said. Read more of this post

Court papers reveal Australian official’s affair with Vietnamese spy

Elizabeth MasamuneBy IAN ALLEN | intelNews.org |
A statement filed with a federal court in Australia reveals that a Vietnamese intelligence officer, who is accused of having received millions of dollars in bribes to secure an international business contract, had an affair with an Australian government official involved in the deal. Australian federal authorities allege that the officer, Anh Ngoc Luong, a Colonel with Vietnam’s General Department of Military Intelligence, received AU$20 million (US$20.8 million) from Securency, a subsidiary of the government-owned Reserve Bank of Australia. According to Australian government prosecutors, who are suing eight Reserve Bank executives for bribing Anh, the Vietnamese intelligence officer was secretly paid to help secure a contract for the provision of banknote technology services between Securency and the State Bank of Vietnam. But it now appears that, while helping secure the lucrative deal, Anh had at least “two isolated sexual encounters” with Elizabeth Masamune, who at the time was a senior official with the Australian Trade Commission. Known informally as Austrade, the Commission operates under the country’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and has offices in most Australian embassies and consulates around the world. It is tasked with representing Australia’s business interests abroad and helping Australian companies secure international business contracts. In a statement filed in court on Monday, Masamune said Anh had asked her out to dinner in the spring of 2002, while she was stationed in Vietnam. At the end of the dinner, the Vietnamese intelligence officer suggested that Masamune “go upstairs with him to a room in the hotel”. According to her statement, the Australian trade official agreed to do so “on the spur of the moment”. She added that her decision was motivated by her attraction to Anh and problems she was having in her marriage at the time. Read more of this post

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