Former Gangwon governor questioned over alleged bid rigging in resort sale

Prosecutors questioned former Gangwon Province Gov. Choi Moon-soon on Friday as part of an investigation into suspected irregularities surrounding the sale of a ski resort in the eastern province.

Choi appeared at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office in the morning to face inquiries related to alleged bid rigging in the 2021 sale of Alpensia Resort, which was used as the main venue during the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, to KH Group.

Choi, 67, affiliated with the opposition Democratic Party, served as the governor of the province from 2011 to 2022.

"There was a process in which I made efforts (to sell). I worked very hard," Choi told reporters before entering the prosecution office.

Alpensia, located in Pyeongchang, 131 kilometers east of Seoul, includes a ski resort, a golf club, a water park and a hotel.

Amid financial difficulties after the Winter Olympics, Gangwon Province attempted to sell the resort through public tender. Following four unsuccessful auctions, the resort was sold through competitive bidding to a special-purpose entity affiliated with KH Group for 711.5 billion won (US$555 million).

KH Group has more than 40 affiliates operating in various industries, including lighting, digital devices, construction, real estate development and accommodations.

Prosecutors are looking into the possibility of bid rigging as it was later revealed that only two KH affiliates participated in the final bidding.

They are also investigating whether the province intentionally undervalued the resort, resulting in a sale at an unfairly low price.

The prosecution reportedly secured a statement from a person in charge of the sale, indicating that Choi provided KH Group with information related to the bidding price before the unsuccessful fourth public tender.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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