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Former spy chief facing additional corruption suspicions: sources

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, June 17 (Yonhap) -- The former intelligence chief under a prosecution probe over allegedly taking bribes from a small-sized builder is facing corruption suspicions involving another minor construction firm, according to industry sources Monday.

Won Sei-hoon, a close aide of former President Lee-Myung-bak, has been under investigation for allegedly receiving bribes from Hwang Bo-yeon, a jailed chief of now-bankrupt Hwangbo Construction, in return for using his influence to help the company win several construction deals in 2009.

Industry sources say Won is also suspected of helping a small-sized firm located in Incheon, west of Seoul, clinch a major construction project by the Korea Southern Power Co., a state-run power firm, in 2010.

Won, who headed the National Intelligence Service (NIS) for about four years until early this year, has a close relationship with the firm's chief, the sources said.

They said the prosecution office was collecting relevant proof to determine whether the former intelligence chief peddled his influence for the firm's head.

An official of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office, however, said the office is currently not investigating such suspicions.

In a separate case, Won was indicted on Friday on charges of ordering an online smear campaign against opposition candidates in an aim to sway public opinion in favor of the ruling party prior to the Dec. 19 election.

Won formerly served as first vice-mayor for Seoul when former President Lee was its mayor. He played a leading role in Lee's major projects such as the restoration of the Cheonggye Stream in central Seoul, the redevelopment of run-down residential areas and the restructuring of the public transportation system.

Won also served as minister of public administration and security in the Lee administration.

In related news, the prosecution said it has extended the imprisonment period of Hwang for another 10 days to further investigate the lobbying allegations.

In South Korea, prosecutors can detain a suspect with a court-issued warrant for up to 10 days pending trial and can extend the period for another 10 days if they need more time to interrogate the suspect.

Hwang was imprisoned on June 6 on embezzlement and fraud charges, and the first 10-day period recently expired.

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