FIFA fallout: Australian $500,000 ‘stadium redevelopment’ payment faces probe

June 4, 2015 – 8:00AM

Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker

EXCLUSIVE

Jack Warner: Allegedly stole a $500,000 stadium redevelopment payment.

Jack Warner: Allegedly stole a $500,000 stadium redevelopment payment.

Federal bureaucrats have been contacted by the Australian Federal Police, and members of a proposed senate inquiry committee are seeking answers from Australian soccer chiefs as scrutiny ramps up into Australia’s doomed 2022 World Cup bid.

Fairfax Media can reveal that senior members of the senate committee set to investigate the nation’s anti-foreign bribery regime are pushing for Football Federation Australia officials to answer questions about the $500,000 “stadium redevelopment” payment, which was allegedly stolen by disgraced former FIFA executive Jack Warner in 2010.

And on Tuesday night, during a separate committee hearing, health and sport department officials revealed they had been contacted by the AFP, which is assessing whether any Australian or foreign laws may have been breached in connection to the alleged Warner theft.

During questioning by independent senator Nick Xenophon about the FFA’s interaction with FIFA chiefs during the World Cup bid, the department’s general counsel, Chris Reid, said: “The AFP has told the department that it is assessing the allegations that have been made. The department will cooperate in any processes that the AFP takes part in”.

Department deputy secretary Andrew Stuart also told Senator Xenophon that while questions about the alleged Warner theft should be directed to the FFA, “we are aware there was some fairly fishy business associated with these bids.”

However, they said the misappropriated Warner funds had not come out of the $42.25 million the federal government gave to the FFA for the 2010 World Cup bid.

But Mr Xenophon said that any potential FFA governance lapses in connection to its own funds may should prompt fresh questions about its use of tax-payer dollars to attempt to secure the World Cup hosting rights. FFA insiders have also told Fairfax Media that the FFA initially sought to use the government funds to make the stadium development payment later stolen by Warner. “The FFA decided against this and made sure it came out of its own revenue stream, which suggests someone at the FFA knew this transaction shouldn’t involve the government’s money,” an FFA source aware of the transaction said.

Mr Warner was charged last week as part of a sensational investigation by US authorities which has also led to the arrest of other former and serving FIFA bosses and prompted FIFA’s chief Sepp Blatter’s announcement on Wednesday that he will resign.

The FFA payment to Mr Warner is also likely to be probed by the proposed Australian senate committee investigating whether enough is being done to stop Australian firms paying kickbacks to overseas officials to win favours. Labor senator Sam Dastyari​ announced his intention to launch the committee earlier this year, with Senator Xenophon’s​ support.

Senator Xenophon​ told Fairfax Media on Wednesday that the FFA should explain before the committee what steps it took to prevent the money being pocketed by Mr Warner when the FFA paid the funds to help develop a Caribbean football centre that was founded and is controlled by Mr Warner.

Among the witnesses who could be called will be FFA whistleblower Bonita Mersiades, who warned the FFA in 2010 it was not doing enough to ensure its bid campaign funds, including $45 million provided by the Rudd government, weren’t being misappropriated after being sent to soccer projects linked to shady FIFA officials.

Senator Xenophon​ said he wasn’t accusing the FFA of impropriety or bribery but, said it needed to explain what it did, if anything, to prevent the $500,000 being corruptly misappropriated by a soccer official whose support it was simultaneously chasing.

“Australians have a right to know what the FFA did to manage the conflict of interest and the possibility the funds would misappropriated by Mr Warner,” Senator Xenophon​ said.

The FFA has insisted it acted appropriately in making the payment for the stadium redevelopment into a bank account belonging to a soccer body controlled by Warner.

In an open letter, FFA chairman Frank Lowy said Australia’s World Cup bid was clean but admitted mistakes had been made.

“(Since) Australia received just one vote in its World Cup bid, I have nursed a bitter grievance,” wrote Lowy. “We ran a clean bid. I know that others did not, and I have shared what I know with the authorities.

“But did we make mistakes? Yes. Were we naïve? In some cases, yes. Would we do things differently in future? Absolutely.”

Lowy admitted he knew Mr Warner to be a “colourful character” and Australia had been asked to donate $4 million to help develop a Centre of Excellence in Trinidad & Tobago. “We compromised and offered $500,000 to fund a preliminary feasibility study,” wrote Lowy.

He said he had since demanded CONCACAF to give back the money “because it wasn’t used for the purpose we intended”.

Under the US corruption laws, an organisation can be prosecuted for recklessly making a payment that is later pocketed as a bribe.

Senator Dastyari​ said his proposed committee would examine whether Australian laws need to be brought into line with the US regime, which was used last week to arrest several former and serving FIFA officials.

In 2010, when the FFA paid the stadium funds to a Warner-controlled soccer organisation’s bank account, the FFA was desperately trying to secure Mr Warner’s backing for its World Cup bid. At the time of the payment, Mr Warner had a reputation, which was well known to the FFA and the football world, for corruptly pocketing funds linked to soccer projects under his control.

Mr Warner reportedly been charged over allegations he was paid millions in bribes disguised as Caribbean soccer development funds and which were linked to the South Africa Football Association.

 

The Canberra Times

Extra security for Queensland Anzac Day services

April 23, 2015 – 12:00AM

Amy Remeikis

Queensland state political reporter

There will be a greater police presence at key Queensland shrines on Anzac Day.

There will be a greater police presence at key Queensland shrines on Anzac Day. Photo: Robert Shakespeare

Security will be ramped up across Queensland for Anzac Day services, with police planning additional patrols across key shrines.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said while there was no terror threat authorities were aware of in Queensland, it had been decided an additional police presence was necessary.

Police Deputy Commissioner Ross Barnett said extra security had been planned as a precaution “to support a peaceful outcome for everyone who attends”.

“This is largely due to the change in National Security Alert Levels last year, and the significance of this year’s Centenary Anzac Day event,” he said in a statement.

Australian Federal Police foiled an alleged plot to attack a Melbourne Anzac commemoration event last week.

Ms Palaszczuk encouraged Queenslanders to attend their local ceremony to pay homage to the nation’s service men and women.

“Let me re-assure Queenslanders there is no terror threat here in Queensland,” she said.

“Having said that, there will be an increased police presence on the day, but I want to encourage all Queenslanders to show your support on Anzac Day, stand up for the ideals that people have fought for, and show your support to commemorate the 100 anniversary of Anzac Day.”

Meanwhile, CEO of the National Retail Association Trevor Evans advised retailers to shut up shop.

“Trading hours can be very confusing for retailers, but everyone should be very clear that Anzac Day is a no go,” he said.

“There are fines for those do open before 1pm but regardless of the laws that apply, Anzac Day is a very special day. It has cultural significance and everyone should understand that a majority of shops will be shut.”

Under legislation, factories and stores are required to close on April 25, barring a few exceptions, including racing venues, TAB, licensed premises, essential services and, once the clock strikes 1pm, independent retail shops.

Amusement zones, such as cinemas, can open after 1.30pm.

Given the 100th anniversary of the Gallipoli landing falls on a Saturday this year, there will be no corresponding public holiday on the Monday.

 

The Brisbane Times

Australian War Memorial director delivers reassuring words for Anzac Day spectators

April 18, 2015 – 10:36PM

Kimberley Granger

Chronicle reporter

Security arrangements for Anzac Day services at the Australian War Memorial are appropriate for the threat risk on the day, said director Dr Brendan Nelson.

Dr Nelson delivered a word of comfort for those wishing to participate in the events at the war memorial in Canberra.

“There is no reason for anyone, other than physical incapacity, not to attend the dawn service and the national service at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra,” he said.

“Obviously we work hand in glove with our security intelligence agencies both local and national, and we’re confident based on the advice that we have been given, all of which we have taken, that the security arrangements are appropriate for the threat risk that we understand is the case.”

While Australian Federal Police would not comment on the arrangements or advice, a spokesman for ACT Policing said they had not been made aware of any policing-related threat.

“Given the jurisdictional size of the ACT, we can rapidly deploy resources to where we need them,” he said.

 

The Canberra Times

Australian Federal Police asked to investigate Scott Morrison

October 8, 2014 – 5:43AM

Federal police have been asked to investigate Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and his staff for allegedly leaking details of a confidential internal security report from Nauru to a journalist, it’s been reported.

News Corp Australia reported on Friday that internal Transfield security documents from the offshore processing centre in Nauru revealed it was “probable” that Save the Children staff were encouraging asylum seekers to self harm.

Fairfax Media said on Wednesday it understood that select paragraphs from the confidential report were provided to the journalist.

The article also reported Mr Morrison had ordered 10 Save the Children staff to be removed from the island under Section 70 of the Crimes Act for alleged misuse of privileged information.

This prohibits any person employed by the Commonwealth to send information to a non-government officer.

Greens senator and immigration spokeswoman Sarah Hanson-Young has written to the AFP to say Mr Morrison’s staff may have contravened the same section of the Crimes Act by providing select confidential information to a journalist.

The AFP confirmed to Fairfax Media it had received the complaint and would evaluate it “as per usual process”.

Mr Morrison has launched an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse against women and children asylum seekers on Nauru and into allegations that Save the Children staff were “coaching and encouraging” asylum seekers to protest and self harm.

Ms Hanson-Young told Fairfax Media that “information seems to be leaking from the office of the minister and his department at suspiciously convenient times”.

“If the minister’s office has been involved in a breach of the Crimes Act, I expect the full force of the law to be applied.”

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Source : The Sydney Morning Herald

Parliament ministerial wing in lockdown, passes to the house restricted

September 22, 2014 – 9:42AM

Primrose Riordan

Reporter at The Canberra Times

Australian Federal Police officers patrol Parliament House on Friday.

Australian Federal Police officers patrol Parliament House on Friday. Photo: Andrew Meares

Federal Speaker Bronwyn Bishop and the President of the Senate Stephen Parry have ordered a lockdown of the ministerial wing of Parliament House and a ban on unaccompanied passes on Sunday night, saying it is “effective immediately”.

The move comes as Australian Federal Police officers replaced unarmed public servants who provided internal security on Friday after Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Parliament House had been identified as a potential terror target through “chatter” intercepted by security agencies.

The Department of Parliamentary Services issued a memo from the presiding officers saying the new arrangements were a continuation of these changes after the national terrorism alert level was raised to high by Mr Abbott on September 12 after a warning from ASIO chief David Irvine.

The new announcement placing ministers’ offices in lockdown was made via an internal note to all staff working at the House.

“Other than Members and Senators, only Ministerial Staff or those with both photographic passes and conducting business in the Ministerial Wing may access the area,” the memo said.

Also, under the new arrangements, all visitors have to be escorted at all times and there will be no unaccompanied passes.

“All visitors must be escorted at all times. No pass holder can sign in more than 10 visitors at any time and they must accompany the people they have signed in,” reads the memo.

Previously, some visitors were able to gain access to the building without being signed in and accompanied by a building staff member.

The instructions also call for visitors “wherever possible” to be directed to the public entrance.

Some traffic access to the building has also been cut off, particularly around the ministerial wing.

“The ministerial slip road access is also closed and advice will be provided directly to those officers who will be affected about alternative,” the memo reads.

The communique also flags increased checks on passes in the building. “All pass holders are reminded to clearly display their pass whenever in the precinct and this will be checked,” it said.

Press Gallery president David Speers said journalists would still be able to visit ministers without revealing who they were meeting.

“You will be asked to show your yellow pass and may be asked what you’re doing.  If you simply say you are meeting a Minister, that will be fine.  You will not be required to state who you are meeting,” he told press gallery journalists in an email on Monday morning.

“If you have people with you on escorted passes, you will be asked more details and may require someone from the Minister’s office to meet you.”

Source : The Sydney Morning Herald

Former Australian Federal Police member accused of stalking ex-girlfriend granted bail

September 5, 2014 – 9:15PM

Michael Inman

COURTS REPORTER FOR THE CANBERRA TIMES.

ACT Magistrates Court

ACT Magistrates Court Photo: Graham Tidy

A former Australian Federal Police counter-terrorism member accused of using secret information to stalk his ex-girlfriend has been freed from jail.

But Roman Eiginson, 52, will be subject to a long list of strict bail conditions until his case can be heard.

Eiginson is facing six charges in the ACT Magistrates Court in relation to allegations he illegally used a police database to collect information to stalk his ex-girlfriend and her new partner.

He is yet to enter pleas.

Eiginson has been in custody since his arrest on April 19.

He has made four bail applications since that time, with Justice Richard Refshauge finally granting him conditional liberty in the ACT Supreme Court on Friday.

But the judge imposed 13 conditions, including reporting to police daily, surrendering all passports, not contacting employees of the AFP, and reporting all travel.

During a bail hearing in July, the court heard Eiginson arrived in Australia in 1991 on a passport from the Soviet Union, where he had worked as a soldier and police officer.

He became an Australian Protective Service officer in 2001, and was later absorbed into the AFP, where he worked in counter-terrorism and, most recently, treasury.

He was arrested by ACT police in April after his ex-girlfriend accused him of stalking.

The court heard the pair had been in a relationship from mid-2009, which soured when he married a woman from Russia.

Investigations revealed he had allegedly accessed an AFP database to collect information on the woman’s new partner in an apparent attempt to split them up.

The court heard police raided his house and discovered several passports, including one that pictured Eiginson’s wife but under a different name, and three in Eiginson’s name.

The search also allegedly uncovered NSW police uniforms from when Eiginson had been a recruit in that state.

The prosecution argued Eiginson posed a flight risk, a danger to his ex-partner, and could interfere with witnesses.

But the defence said strict bail conditions could mitigate the risks.

Justice Refshauge on Friday agreed, and released Eiginson to live in NSW.

The judge said he had not been satisfied the defendant would flee or reoffend.

“The AFP is likely to be able to prevent unauthorised departures from Australia,” Justice Refshauge wrote in his reasons.

“I note that Mr Eiginson has relevant ties with the territory, especially in real [estate] property.

“I note also that he has been suspended without pay, which limits the access he has to funds to enable him to obtain travel documents or make travel arrangements.”

The judge also noted that while the offence of stalking carried a two-year maximum jail sentence, there was no guarantee the accused, if found guilty, would be jailed for a period longer than the time he had already spent in custody.

Source : The Canberra Times

Australian Federal Police called on to look into Tony Abbott, George Brandis

October 18, 2013

Mark Kenny, Daniel Hurst, Heath Aston

Don Randall has refused to answer question about his travel to Cairns and penchant for children's cookbooks.

Don Randall: repaying the money for his taxpayer-funded trip to Cairns. Photo: Andrew Meares

Expenses claims by Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Attorney-General George Brandis have been referred to the Australian Federal Police, and a senior Liberal has been urged to resign by one of his colleagues as the expenses scandal continues to dog the government.

West Australian state Liberal MP Rob Johnson called on Mr Abbott to dump the embattled federal WA Liberal Don Randall over a taxpayer-funded trip to Cairns with his wife in November last year.

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Refused to commit to changes to the parliamentary expenses system: Prime Minister Tony Abbott. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen

That cost the public $5259 and has not been explained beyond the two words ”electorate business”.

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In a statement on Thursday Mr Randall said he would immediately reimburse the full cost of the trip to ”ensure the right thing is done by the taxpayer and alleviate any ambiguity”.

”I today contacted the Department of Finance seeking urgent advice in relation to my Cairns travel expenses due to the ongoing media scrutiny and public interest about this matter,” he said in the statement.

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Attorney-General George Brandis. Photo: Sasha Woolley

“The Department informed me that it cannot provide definitive advice.”

The decision comes after days of refusing to respond to requests from Fairfax Media to specify the nature of the so-called ”electorate business” in Cairns.

It appears to reflect an open admission that the original claim was not capable of being defended on the very basis it was made.

However, Mr Randall continued to claim that the trip was bona fide even though he has provided no additional information, and had decided of his own volition to repay the money rather than defend the claim.

”I’ve always acted in good faith when submitting claims and after an extensive review of all my expenses, I’m satisfied that those claims meet the guidelines,” he said.

The Randalls took possession of an investment property in Cairns at the time, a fact recorded in the parliamentary register of members’ financial interests just a week after the Cairns visit.

With the scandal dominating politics, Victorian Labor MP Rob Mitchell revealed on Thursday he had written to the AFP seeking a formal investigation of claims by Mr Abbott and Senator Brandis to attend the weddings of Peter Slipper and Sophie Mirabella.

Mr Mitchell said there appeared to be ”a consistent and deliberate abuse of taxpayer funds for personal gain”.

NSW Nationals senator John Williams also called on Mr Abbott to tighten the system, saying people who were struggling with the cost of living were annoyed to see stories about politicians’ expense claims.

”The Australian people must have faith in a government and all politicians that we’re doing the right thing,” Senator Williams said.

With the government bleeding over the Randall case, one of a string of expenses scandals on both sides of politics, Mr Johnson branded Mr Randall ”a coward” and said he was speaking up on behalf of other ”disgusted members of the WA party”.

”He should resign from Parliament or the Prime Minister should show some leadership and sack him,” said Mr Johnson, a former state minister and current member of the Barnett government.

He said Mr Randall needed to explain to his constituents exactly what business he was doing on their behalf on trips to Cairns and Melbourne with a family member.

Mr Johnson acknowledged that the pair ”had history”.

Mr Abbott has so far refused to commit to changes to the parliamentary expenses system, despite multiple cases of MPs making false claims that, if made in a tax return, could lead to prosecution.

Mr Abbott’s chief of staff Peta Credlin this week told all Coalition MPs to get approval from the Prime Minister at least four weeks before travelling overseas.

Monday’s email said MPs and senators were ”reminded that approval must be sought” for overseas study travel, sponsored travel and privately funded trips, but not for parliamentary delegations.

It followed Fairfax Media reports on Coalition MPs Barnaby Joyce, Julie Bishop and Teresa Gambaro flying to India on a private jet funded by Gina Rinehart to attend a wedding, then claiming ”overseas study” entitlements to cover the cost of the return journey.

A spokesman for the Special Minister of State Michael Ronaldson dismissed the referral to the AFP as ”a political stunt”.

”I trust Rob Mitchell has also written letters to the Federal Police asking they investigate Tony Burke, Julia Gillard, Anthony Albanese, Mark Dreyfus, Jacinta Collins, Senator Mark Bishop, Senator Don Farrell, Trish Crossin and Kirstin Livermore,” he said.

The AFP announced on Thursday that it would not be investigating the alleged misuse of MPs entitlements, despite the multiple complaints, but had forwarded them to the finance department.

The Sydney Morning Herald

‘Trust-me Tony Abbott s’ silence on expenses is curious

 

When Tony Abbott wasn’t casting the election as a referendum on the carbon tax or border security, he was framing it as a referendum on trust.

Restoring trust in government, voters were assured, was the bare minimum Australians were owed after the multiple breaches of the Rudd/Gillard period.

Measured against this imperative, the Prime Minister’s studied silence on the ongoing expenses scandal ensnaring some of his own MPs is curious.

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It is jarring to see how quickly the public’s reasonable expectation of probity in its political representatives has been superseded by the reflex to secrecy and self-protection in the new political class.

A series of reports by Fairfax Media exposing the imprecise world of MP’s expenses claims, has raised genuine questions. Questions which go to the integrity of the system, and by extension, the quality of individuals involved.

This, it must be acknowledged is a difficult area to police. In many respects, the MP’s job is a unique one and the totality of tasks and responsibilities, hard to codify.

What constitutes legitimate “work” can be a matter of some perspective, which is why the system is so self-regulated and thus intrinsically open to abuse.

Most taxpayers would say attending a wedding is not work under any circumstances. Ditto for attending big sporting events – the kind that many taxpayers cannot afford the entry to let alone the airfares and accommodation they find themselves unwittingly funding.

The inscrutability of the Government and faux indignation of many MPs that their claims on the public purse are being scrutinised is about the only thing genuinely transparent here.

Spectacular examples of rorting, such as those in Britain’s House of Commons, make constant public vigilance a necessity.

Mr Abbott’s reluctance to reset the standards and be seen to prosecute fraudulent behaviour, suggest the government has already switched to putting its own political interest above those of voters.

And this before Parliament’s even convened for the first time.

Asking the Australian Federal Police to intervene, Labor MP Rob Mitchell cited “a consistent and deliberate abuse of taxpayer funds for personal gain.” It has happened on both sides of the aisle.

The new government is fond of mentioning its mandate. Well, it cuts both ways. Public trust in the political class has gone backwards since the election.

The Prime Minister must be seen to be acting unambiguously for the taxpayers if a further decline in the standing of our politicians is to be arrested.

The Sydney Morning Herald

ACT case sparks police pepper spray embargo

September 28, 2013

Phillip Thomson

Reporter at The Canberra Times.

Comunidade da Austrália

Police across the country could be prevented from using pepper spray to defend themselves as a result of a legal case against a Canberra Australian Federal Police officer.

Sergeant Brett Coutts has taken his case to the Federal Court to clear his name after the AFP sacked him earlier this year for alleged use of excessive force.

His union is so concerned about the case it has funded his court battle, concerned his firing could set a nasty precedent affecting 56,000 police nationally.

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In court documents police say at 1.41am on May 26 last year the officer used capsicum spray on a man from a distance of 30 centimetres before holding him in a headlock and putting him in the back of a caged police vehicle.

The Australian Federal Police Association’s national president, Jon Hunt-Sharman, said his organisation was financially backing the court case because of its wide-ranging implications.

‘‘A dangerous precedent will be set if a highly experienced frontline operational cop can be sacked for using a non-lethal and safe tool issued to him, when he had a genuine belief that the offender posed a serious threat to members of the public and  himself,’’ Mr Hunt-Sharman said.

‘‘The outcome of the Federal Court matter will have a flow on effect to 56,000 police officers throughout Australia.’’

The incident happened outside The Cabinet nightclub in  Manuka,  and a colleague within the police force complained about the officer’s conduct a fortnight later.

The officer was immediately suspended with pay while the incident was investigated by the AFP’s professional standards unit.

The investigation finally concluded the officer had used excessive force and he was sacked in June this year.

In his defence filed in the Federal Court by his legal team, Sergeant Coutts argued the decision making process was biased, although the AFP rejected the claim natural justice had been denied.

ACT Policing did not comment because the matter was in court. According to the police association, Sergeant Coutts is now suspended with pay while the legal case is underway.

Publicly available AFP documents say the primary and preferred means of conflict de-escalation is negotiation and members should consider other use of force options before discharging oleoresin capsicum (OC) spray.

The federal police force is contracted to provide policing in the ACT.

Fairfax Media revealed last week Victoria Police would phase out capsicum spray and replace it with a  non-flammable product.

Canberra Times

Australian corruption body urges joint efforts

There is now a growing level corruption occurring across borders, and international partnerships are essential in understanding and combating the serious and systemic crimes, according to the head of Australia’s corruption watchdog.

“Anti-corruption agencies in various countries, like Australia and South Korea, to be in contact and to cooperate with other agencies are now very important. So we can learn from each other and understand things we have to work on,” Philip Moss, Integrity Commissioner of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity said in an interview with The Korea Herald.

Philip Moss, Integrity Commissioner of the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity

The ACLEI became the eighth member of the Anti-Corruption Agency Forum after being approved for membership at the general meeting on Monday.

Launched in 2007, ACLEI’s jurisdiction now includes preventing, detecting and investigating corruption issues in the Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and the Australian Federal Police.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry is also part of the Integrity Commissioner’s jurisdiction.

Over the last six years, the ACLEI has been focused on corruption in the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. And as a result of an on-going investigation together with Australian Federal Police, the watchdog has led to 22 arrests involving corrupt conduct at the Sydney International Airport, and five arrests of Customs and Border Protection officers, according to the Australian commissioner.

“We have a particular expertise with law enforcement integrity. We want to bring that expertise and knowledge to this forum,” he said, noting that the ACA Forum is an opportunity to share each agency’s approach to detection and investigation against corruption.

“I look forward to hearing from international counterparts how they approach corruption controls in the future,” he added.

By Oh Kyu-wook (596story@heraldcorp.com)

 

The Korea Herald

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