3 ex-ministers indicted in ‘blacklist scandal’

SEOUL-- Three former ministers under the previous Moon Jae-in administration were indicted Thursday on charges of abusing their power to force state agency chiefs to step down, prosecutors said.

The Seoul Eastern Prosecutors' Office wrapped up its investigation into what is dubbed the "blacklist scandal" that centers on allegations that the Moon administration forced the resignation of heads of several state agencies who were appointed under the preceding Park Geun-hye government.

The three -- former Industry Minister Paik Un-gyu, former Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon and former ICT Minister You Young-min -- all served as the Moon administration's first ministers.

The prosecution office also indicted two former presidential officials -- Cho Hyun-ock, a senior secretary for personnel affairs, and Kim Bong-joon, a secretary for personnel affairs -- on the same charge.

Prosecutors allege Paik forced the resignation of the heads of 11 state-run energy companies who were appointed under the preceding Park government, shortly after he took office in 2017.

Former Minister Cho is accused of forcing Sohn Kwang-ju, a former chief of the Korea Hana Foundation, to step down in 2017, even though about a year was left in his term. The foundation was formerly known as the North Korean Refugees Foundation.

You is facing charges of forcing Lim Ki-chul, a former chief of the Korea Institute of S&T Evaluation and Planning, to step down in 2017, even though about two years were left in Lim's term.

An investigation into the scandal began nearly four years ago when the then main opposition Liberty Korea Party, a predecessor of the now ruling People Power Party, lodged a criminal complaint against former ranking officials and several former ministers.

Earlier, the Supreme Court also confirmed a two-year prison sentence for former Environment Minister Kim Eun-kyung for abusing her power to force ranking officials from the previous Park administration to resign from public institutions. She was released on presidential parole last year.

Source: Yonhap News Agency