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Army colonel, 19 others indicted for corruption in border loudspeaker procurement

2018/05/13 15:34

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SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) -- Prosecutors have indicted an Army colonel, the head of a loudspeaker manufacturing firm and 18 others involved in a scheme to provide the military with substandard loudspeakers used for psychological warfare broadcasting on the border with North Korea, officials said Sunday.

The colonel, surnamed Kwon, was arrested in March on charges of helping the loudspeaker firm win a 16.6 billion-won (US$15.5 million) contract to provide the military with 40 propaganda loudspeakers by lowering the required criteria and providing other favors.

Such loudspeakers should be powerful enough to be heard from 10 kilometers away, but investigators have found that the firm supplied low-quality speakers that can send sound only half that distance.

Loudspeakers should pass three tests, conducted at daytime, nighttime and early in the morning, if they are to be supplied to the military, but Kwon lowered the standard so that the firm could win the contract by passing only one test either at nighttime or early in the morning when it's relatively quiet.

It was unclear what Kwon received in return for the favors.

Four of the 20 indicted people have already been arrested, including Kwon and the speaker firm's head, surnamed Cho, while the rest were indicted without physical detention.

South and North Korea have used loudspeakers for propaganda broadcasts on the border against each other, but the two sides dismantled the facilities under an agreement reached in last month's historic inter-Korean summit to cease all hostile acts and eliminate their means.