Telecom chief pleads not guilty to bribery
PYEONGTAEK, South Korea — South Korean telecom executive Jeong Gi-hwan has pleaded not guilty to bribing AAFES officials and will stand trial in February in Dallas federal court, according to court records.
A federal grand jury indicted Jeong last week on two-counts of bribing Army and Air Force Exchange Service officials so his Internet company SSRT could hold a lucrative contract to provide home Internet, phone and cellphone service to U.S. troops and families in South Korea.
SSRT, also known as Samsung Rental Co. Ltd., and Samsung Rental Corp. Ltd., held the $206 million AAFES contract from October 2001 to January 2007.
Jeong pleaded not guilty Friday in Dallas at his arraignment in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. He was indicted Feb. 17.
A jury trial is set for Feb. 23 before U.S. District Judge Ed Kinkeade.
Prosecutors have contended that Jeong paid about $195,000 to former AAFES officials to gain their favorable influence so that SSRT would be the company that held the AAFES contract.
The alleged bribes included cash, and money spent on prostitutes, drinking, dining and travel, according to prosecution documents filed in the case.
Prosecutors contend that Jeong bribed Clifton W. Choy and H. Lee Holloway.
Choy died of heart failure in August at a time when he faced possible federal prosecution in the case.
Holloway has confessed to taking bribes, according to the prosecution.
Jeong was convicted in South Korean court in January of interfering with international trade by allegedly bribing AAFES officials to favor SSRT. He and SSRT were fined what totaled about $31,000. The sentence is now being appealed to the South Korean Supreme Court, according to a defense document filed in Dallas.
SSRT was forced to give up its contract in January 2007. LG Dacom now holds the contract.