Amid an ongoing investigation by South Korean law enforcement, a former chairman for the Korean Esports Association (KeSPA) and several of his aides appear to be implicated in a corruption scandal.
The chairman and his aides are being investigated for receiving large payments from South Korean retail-giant Lotte Homeshopping, as well as embezzling association funds—a representative from the South Korean Prosecutor’s Office told Korean newspaper Hankyoreh.
A raid on the KeSPA offices occurred on Nov. 7 after investigators had taken three aides—one of which was no longer working for the chairman—into custody. Investigators proceeded to search the home of the former aide, which subsequently led to a raid of the KeSPA headquarters.
The names of the chairman nor the aides have been publicized, but based off of the current reports, the chairman the Prosecutor’s Office is referring to seems to be Jeon Byung-Hun. During his tenure with KeSPA, Byung-Hun also sat on the parliamentary committee on broadcasting and communications—and is now suspected of having been bribed by Lotte Homeshopping in order to renew the company’s broadcast license, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap Times.
Lotte, which is currently the largest department store in South Korea, lost the rights to broadcast its own home-shopping show during prime-time viewing hours in 2016 after the company submitted false information in order to renew its business license. The chief of Lotte Homeshopping was, as a result, sentenced to 18 months in prison.
“The ministry said Lotte Homeshopping intentionally cut the number of executives and employees implicated in bribery to renew its channel license for another three years in April 2015, which was discovered by state auditors in February,” Yonhap reported on May 27, 2016.
Prosecutors also seem to be investigating whether any sponsorship deals between KeSPA and Lotte Homeshopping were used as a means to influence Byung-Hun—which includes the second season of the KeSPA Cup, Team Liquid reports.
The former KeSPA chairman, who has only been identified as “Jun” in South Korean press, has proclaimed his innocence in a statement. “I was never involved in any illegality in connection with the Lotte Homeshopping case reported in the press,” Jun told Yonhap. “I’m truly dumbfounded.”