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Olympic Games: Official is silent over bribe case

AN INFLUENTIAL South Korean Olympic official yesterday refused to comment on a United States criminal case implicating his son in Salt Lake City's bribery scandal.

A businessman pleaded guilty to tax fraud on Tuesday, saying he had helped the son of Kim Un-yong, an executive member of the International Olympic Committee, obtain lawful permanent resident status by setting up a sham job at his now-defunct communications company.

"Mr Kim Un-yong will have no comment," his chief secretary, Baek Sung- il, said in response to repeated requests by reporters for an interview. The secretary distributed copies of a statement Kim's American lawyer, Howard Graff, issued after the guilty plea in the first criminal case stemming from the US federal investigation into Salt Lake City's winning bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics.

"It is indeed unfortunate that by implication, Dr Kim [Un-yong] has once again been dragged into a story concerning the alleged misdeeds of others," it said.

David E Simmons, the businessman, has admitted that he used fake contracts and phoney invoices to conceal the fact that John Kim's salary was being paid by the Salt Lake City Olympic Bid Committee.

Kim, who is also the president of an international confederation of Olympic sports, has denied any wrong-doing in the Salt Lake City scandal. He has said that his son worked with Simmons on purely business terms and that he was unaware of any wrong-doing.

Ten IOC members either resigned or were expelled for receiving cash and other improper inducements from the Salt Lake City committee who were trying to win the right to hold the Olympics. An IOC probe ruled Kim's case as minor and closed the case with a "severe warning".