In South Korea, federal prosecutors reportedly raided the offices of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism over the weekend to execute a search warrant concerned with allegations of the illicit hiring of staff at the nation’s Kangwon Land Casino.
According to a Sunday report from The Korea Times newspaper, the action in Sejong City was carried out by a special unit of the Supreme Prosecutors Office and followed accusations that a former senior tourism official only referred to by his surname of ‘Kim’ may have illegally granted Kangwon Land Casino permission to expand in exchange for jobs inside the nation’s largest casino for four members of his family.
The newspaper reported that the Saturday raid also involved a search of the headquarters of casino operator Kangwon Land Incorporated as well as the offices and homes of three people including the former tourism official with investigators subsequently confiscating documents detailing the 2013 expansion deal for the gambling venue located in eastern Gangwon Province.
The Korea Times reported that this is the first time the offices of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism have been raided over the illicit hiring accusations with officials now keen to discover the complete role the government department may have played in the expansion of Kangwon Land Casino. Prosecutors purportedly believe that ‘Kim’ had numerous telephone conversations with a senior member of staff at Kangwon Land Incorporated in advance of the expansion deal being signed before subsequently being informed that his family members had been hired after sitting through official job interviews.
The only venue in South Korea where locals and foreigners are permitted to gamble alongside each other, Kangwon Land Casino opened in 2000 and currently features a 293,757 sq ft casino floor complete with around 180 gaming tables and approximately 1,360 slots. The property is also one of the most lucrative casinos in the Asian nation after recently detailing (pdf) a fourth-quarter operating profit of roughly $73.5 million courtesy of some $353.6 million in gaming revenues alongside a little over $21 million in takings from non-gambling activities.
The Korea Times reported that the weekend raids came only two days after the Supreme Prosecutors Office executed search warrants at the offices of National Assembly representatives Yeom Dong-Yeol and Kweon Seong-Dong of the opposition Liberty Korea Party. These March 8 actions followed allegations levied by Ahn Mee-Hyun, a former junior prosecutor for the Chuncheon District Prosecutors Office in Gangwon Province, that her former supervisors had repeatedly pressured staff not to enter documents into evidence that purportedly indicated that Choi Heung-Jip, the former Chief Executive Officer for Kangwon Land Incorporated, and the two legislators may have had some involvement in a high-profile corruption case.