Nonghyup chief indicted over alleged illegal electioneering

July 11, 2016

SEOUL, July 11 (Yonhap) — Prosecutors indicted the president of South Korea’s state-run farmers’ cooperative on Monday over allegations he was elected through illegal campaigning.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said Kim Byeong-won is suspected of getting involved in irregularities committed during the January election where he was named the head of the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation (Nonghyup).

During the latest election, three candidates, including Kim, ran for the presidency. Choi Deok-gyu, the candidate who took third place in the initial round of voting, is suspected of sending messages to delegates asking them to vote for Kim just before the voting began, according to prosecutors.

Under the law that regulates the federation’s election, candidates and third parties are prohibited from campaigning on the day of the election.

A total of 14 people, including Kim and Choi, were indicted over their alleged involvement in the impropriety, prosecutors said, wrapping up their six-month-long investigation.

Prosecutors said they could not find evidence of money changing hands or other favors given to Choi in return for the unlawful support.

During the investigation, the suspects reportedly said they had a consensus that those close to the outgoing Nonghyup chief should not grab the top position again.