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College president arrested in money-for-student scheme

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Published : 2013-01-29 20:20
Updated : 2013-01-29 20:20

Officials from a college in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province, were accused of misappropriating school funds and state subsides and bribing high school teachers to increase its enrollment, prosecutors said.

The Daegu District Public Prosecutors’ Office said it has charged the president and six high-ranking officials of Pohang College Friday with embezzlement, bribery, fraud and other offenses.

They were suspected of falsely increasing the number of students to secure more government subsidies.

Its chief, Ha Min-young, was arrested on Jan. 16 and others were not detained.

According to the prosecution, the officials manipulated their student number from 2008 through 2010 to receive 568 million won in government funds. The illicit gains were used to form slush funds and finance overseas vacations for school staff.

In an elaborate scheme, the staff doctored the application process, grades, and tuition and scholarships. The school registered 39 school staff who had no intention to study as students and awarded them full scholarships. The school staff took names of friends and relatives to make false admission applications.

Beginning in 2007, its student recruiters visited high schools throughout Pohang and nearby Gyeongju and offered to pay guidance counselor teachers 200,000 won for each student who applied to their university, said the prosecution.

Records show the number of freshmen applicants for Pohang College had been decreasing steadily, but since the bribes began in 2008, the figures jumped from 2,581 in 2009 to 3,846 in 2011.

Seven high school teachers were indicted without detention for receiving more than 10 million won in bribes from the college and 48 former and incumbent teachers face investigation by the provincial office of education for allegedly taking smaller bribes.

As high school teachers exert great influence over their students’ future, it is a significant offense that they treated their students as a commodity in exchange for bribes, the prosecution stated.

The college declined to comment on the case.

By Lee Sang-ju (sjlee370@heraldcorp.com)

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