Former Kangwon Land CEO sentenced to prison over staff hiring scandal

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The former CEO of the only Korean casino at which locals are allowed to gamble, Kangwon Land, has been sentenced to three years in prison after his appeal over conviction for illegally hiring hundreds of staff via political and internal connections was dismissed.

Choi Hung-jib, who was originally convicted in January 2019 before launching an appeal, was found guilty by the 2nd Criminal Division of the Chuncheon District Court last week of instructing officials to adjust job assessments to ensure candidates linked to high-profile politicians would be hired for positions at Kangwon Land. The 70-year-old was immediately remanded in custody, according to a report by Yonhap News Agency.

Two leading members of South Koreas opposition Liberty Korea Party, Kweon Seong-dong and Yeom Dong-yeol, were indicted in July 2018 for their part in the major corruption scandal, which took place between November 2012 and April 2013. The duo is said to have influenced the hiring of 50 trainees between them by manipulating interview scores so the chosen candidate would pass.

Kangwon Land issued a statement in September 2019 in which it admitted that in 2012 and 2013 it had hired 518 people of which 493 of them around 95% were appointed due to connections with various influential people.

The corruption was uncovered in 2015 and Choi found guilty in 2019 before launching his appeal.

The original trial judge stated at the time, As the Chief Executive of a public institution, he was responsible for refusing external solicitations and protecting the fairness and objectivity of the hiring process, but he neglected to do so and took the lead in the crime of hiring a specific person in the form of open recruitment by receiving a request from a powerful person.

Kangwon Lands then-head of the Planning and Coordination Office was also sentenced to 10 months in prison with two years of probation for participating in corruption relating to the public recruitment of water quality and environment experts at the resorts Water World theme park.