US Convicts Former Head of S. Korea Earthquake Office of Bribery, Money Laundering

A federal court in California has convicted the former head of South Korea’s earthquake research center of accepting bribes and money laundering.

Prosecutors say Heon-Cheol Chi received more than $1 million from U.S. and British seismological companies in exchange for insider business information. He concealed the money through the U.S. banking system.

Chi was found guilty Monday after a trial that lasted just four days.

“The American financial system is not to be used as a storehouse for the proceeds of corrupt activity,” Acting U.S. Attorney Sandra Brown said. “This conviction sends a message that should be heard around the world.”

U.S. attorneys say Chi demanded bribes from the companies in exchange for information that would give them an unfair advantage in the South Korean earthquake research business. It included confidential information about competitors and the bidding process.

Chi laundered the cash through California and New York banks and investment houses before sending the funds back to South Korea.

Prosecutors say he got more in bribes than his government salary.

Chi will be sentenced in October.


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