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Prosecution raids office of Gwangju mayor over forgery scandal

2013/08/08 16:43

GWANGJU, Aug. 8 (Yonhap) -- Prosecutors on Thursday raided the office of the mayor of this southern city as part of their investigation into a forgery scandal that has marred the country's first successful bid to host the 2019 world swimming championships.

The scandal centers around allegations that Gwangju city officials, including Mayor Kang Un-tae, forged signatures of high-ranking officials on a bid document that guaranteed the central government's financial support for the event.

Despite the mounting suspicions, Gwangju was selected by the international governing body of swimming, known as FINA, as the host of the event, formally called the FINA World Aquatics Championships.

A team of investigators seized a wide range of documents from the mayor's office at the city hall to prove Kang's alleged involvement, officials of the Gwangju District Prosecutors' Office said.

Kang, who has flatly denied the allegations against him, argues that a mistake was made by a working-level official in the process of submitting the bid document.

The prosecution office also raided the residence of Kim Yoon-suk, the event's bid committee secretary general, prosecution officials said, adding that they will soon call in both Kang and Kim for questioning.

On July 19, the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism accused Kang of forging the signatures of ex-Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik and former Culture Minister Choe Kwang-shik in the city's bid file.

Just hours later on the same day, Gwangju was ultimately selected as the host, but ministry officials insisted they would seek criminal charges against the mayor regardless of the result of the bid race.

Gwangju, located 330 kilometers south of Seoul, is the first South Korean city to host the signature FINA event. It will also host the 2015 Summer Universiade, a multi-sport event for university athletes.