S. Korean general convicted of embezzling military funds
SEOUL — A South Korean military court has convicted the suspended deputy commander of the U.S.-South Korean Combined Forces Command on charges of embezzling military funds, officials said Monday.
Gen. Shin Il-soon, the first active-duty South Korean general prosecuted on corruption charges, was fined 20 million won (about $17,000) and ordered to repay 107 million won ($93,000) in South Korean military funds the court said he misappropriated for personal use.
Under military law, the ruling and sentence must be approved or commuted by Defense Minister Cho Young-kil within 10 days, a Ministry of National Defense spokesman said. Each side then will have seven days to make an appeal. The spokesman also said it was possible Shin could keep his title, because South Korean military law says a general-grade officer is forcibly removed only if given a sentence of suspended jail time or higher.
According to the MND spokesman, military prosecutors had sought a five-year prison term for Shin if convicted.
During the trial, which began May 19 at the MND headquarters adjacent to Yongsan Garrison in Seoul, Shin reportedly admitted to using unit funds but said the money was used for military-related events.
Prosecutors said it was used for personal expenses unrelated to his duties.
The U.S.-South Korean Combined Forces Command, where Shin was deputy, is led by U.S. Gen. Leon J. LaPorte, who also is the U.N. Command and USFK commander. Shin has worked at Yongsan Garrison since April 2003; before that, he served at Republic of Korea Army Headquarters, where officials said the embezzlement occurred. The investigation began after anonymous tips from within South Korea’s military, they said.
Several anonymous letters, signed only as “People Who Love the Armed Forces,” contained the allegations. Since then, several other current and former high-ranking South Korean military officials have been investigated for similar crimes.