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Coast Guard officer removed from post for leaking investigative info

2014/05/08 11:00

BUSAN, May 8 (Yonhap) -- A local Coast Guard officer has been temporarily removed from his post and will come under internal probe for tipping off information related to the ongoing investigation into corruption in the shipping industry, officials said Thursday.

The 41-year-old officer surnamed Lee is suspected of texting his friend at the Korean Register of Shipping (KR) the prosecution's plan to raid the KR's head office in this southern port city of Busan one day before the raid was made, the Busan Coast Guard said.

The KR, a nonprofit organization in charge of inspecting and certifying vessels on behalf of the government, has been under investigation for its role in the deadly sinking of a passenger ferry three weeks ago.

Lee was summoned by local prosecutors Wednesday for questioning over the alleged information leak.

He is also suspected of handing over to KR part of the coast guard-acquired list of KR officials allegedly involved in the lobbying of high-ranking government officials and politicians.

The 6,825-ton ferry Sewol capsized and sank off the southwestern island of Jindo on April 16, leaving 304 passengers dead or missing. Prosecutors suspect illicit connection between KR, which conducted lax safety inspection into the Sewol, and some officials of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.

Prosecutors were trying to find out what other information was leaked and exactly how he came to secure the prosecution's insider information.

Meanwhile, a senior official at the Jeju Coast Guard was removed from his post on Wednesday for playing golf in violation of a government mandate that all civil servants refrain from playing golf and drinking, leisure activities seen as being in poor taste in times of national tragedy.

The official is suspected of having visited a golf range in the southern resort island of Jeju twice as the nation was in grief over the deadly ferry sinking, according to the Jeju Coast Guard.

He will be disciplined strictly if the suspicion is found to be true through an internal investigation, it added.

sshim@yna.co.kr

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