Tongsun Park

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Tongsun Park
Hangul 박동선
Hanja 朴東宣
Revised Romanization Bak Dongseon
McCune–Reischauer Pak Tongsŏn

Tongsun Park (born 1935 in Sunch'ŏn, Korea), also known as Pak Dong-seon, was a figure in two political money-related scandals: Koreagate in the 1970s, and the Oil-for-Food Program scandal of the 2000s. Park had a reputation as the "Asian Great Gatsby,"[1] a socialite who charmed congressmen with his Washington dinner parties and cash payments.

In 1976 Park was charged with bribing members of the U.S. Congress, using money from the South Korea government, in an unsuccessful effort to convince the United States government to keep troops in South Korea. In 1977 he was indicted by a U.S. District Court on 36 counts, including bribery, illegal campaign contributions, mail fraud, racketeering, and failure to register as an agent of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency. He avoided a federal trial by testifying to the court in exchange for immunity. His testimony did not have a major impact, though it led to three members of Congress getting reprimanded, and may have convinced Speaker of the House Carl Albert not to run for re-election.

In 1992 he was approached by Samir Vincent, an Iraqi-born American who was lobbying unofficially on behalf of the Saddam Hussein regime, to try to create a program that would bypass the United Nations-approved economic sanctions of Iraq that had started in 1991. Park agreed, requesting a payment of US$10 million for his effort, to which Vincent agreed. Park served as a liaison between Vincent and then-United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, with whom Park was friendly. In late 1996, partly as a result of Park's lobbying efforts, the U.N. Oil-for-Food Program began. After 1997, when Kofi Annan became the new secretary-general, the government of Iraq dropped its ties with Park; by then Park had received about US$2 million in payments.

Later activity of Tongsun Park[edit]

In 2005 Park was accused of acting as an intermediary with corrupt United Nations officials in the oil-for-food conspiracy orchestrated by Saddam Hussein. His name surfaced as part of investigations into the oil-for-food scandal. In July 2006 he was convicted in a U.S. federal court on conspiracy charges.[2] He became the first person convicted through the oil-for-food investigation. On February 22, 2007, he was sentenced to five years in prison. He also was fined $15,000 and required to forfeit $1,200,000.[3] According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons Web site, he was released from prison on September 10, 2008. He left the United States on the 11th and arrived in South Korea on the 12th.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://books.google.com/books?id=xLszAAAAMAAJ (p. 289)
  2. ^ Associated Press (July 13, 2006), Korean businessman guilty in oil-for-food case, MSNBC, retrieved 2007-05-07 
  3. ^ Lynch, Colum (February 23, 2007), "Park Sentenced to 5 Years in U.N. Oil-for-Food Bribery Scandal", The Washington Post (80): A–11 
  4. ^ 코리아 게이트 박동선씨 귀국 (in Korean), 국민일보 코리안 데일리 뉴스, 2008-09-15, retrieved 2010-03-30 

External links[edit]

  • Dobbs, Michael (April 15, 2005). "The Washington Post : Koreagate Figure Tied To Oil-For-Food Scandal". Washington D.C.  Link
  • Purdum, Todd S. (April 15, 2005). "The New York Times : Accusation Against Lobbyist Echo Charges in 70's Scandal". New York: The New York Times Company. 

See also[edit]