A Seoul court on Monday acquitted a former government assistant finance minister of the charge that he received bribes in return for providing business favours to Hyundai Motor.


Byeon Yang-ho, a former head of the finance ministry’s finance policy-making bureau, was arrested last year on charges that he received 200m won (about $US210,000) from a middleman between 2001 and 2002 in return for reducing debts for two of Hyundai Motor’s affiliates, according to Yonhap News.


The Seoul central district court reportedly said that middleman Kim Dong-hoon’s testimony against Byeon lacked consistency and veracity.


The court, however, sentenced a former state banker, Park Sang-bae, to six years’ imprisonment on similar charges, Yonhap said.


Park, former vice governor of the state-run Korea Development Bank, was indicted last year on charges of receiving a kickback from Hyundai Motor through Kim. Park undertook to help the conglomerate shrink debts for one of its ailing affiliates in 2002, the report said.


Kim, head of an accounting firm, was given a two-year jail term, while six other defendants, including government officials, were also handed jail terms.


Prosecutors have also sought a six-year jail term for Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo, who is now awaiting a verdict on charges of embezzlement and breach of trust. The 68-year-old chairman was indicted last year on charges of misappropriating 90bn won of company funds and eventually causing losses to Hyundai Motor of more than 210bn won between 2000 and 2006, Yonhap noted.


Prosecutors believe Chung also used the money to bribe public officials and politicians, earning various business favours, including construction permits and debt reduction for Hyundai Motor’s affiliates, Yonhap News said.