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Bulgaria Court Holding Oly Scandal Figure

Bulgaria Court Holding Oly Scandal Figure

Posted - May 23, 2003 at 12:01 p.m.



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SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) -- John Kim, the son of a powerful IOC member, will remain in Bulgarian custody on charges related to the Salt Lake City Olympic scandal, attorneys said Friday.

Kim, who was arrested Sunday at the Sofia airport, will be held pending extradition proceedings to the United States, attorney Kamen Sitnilski said.

A court ruled late Thursday that Kim would not be released on bail.

John Kim faces charges of fraud and document forgery allegedly committed between 1995 and 1999 in New York. He is accused of lying to FBI investigators and 16 counts of using a fraudulently obtained green card for a "sham" job a telecommunications executive testified was arranged by Salt Lake's bid leaders.

He is the son of Kim Un-yong, a South Korean IOC member reprimanded by the International Olympic Committee in 2000 for his involvement in the city's bribery scandal.

John Kim was one of three minor players indicted in the tainted bid for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Kim, who was living in New York, fled to South Korea before a U.S. court charged him in September 1999 and never returned.

He was arrested on an Interpol warrant as he arrived from Paris.

He had spent six days in Madrid, Spain, and one night in Paris before coming to Sofia.

"It's kind of strange that he was not arrested there. He crossed the borders without problems," Sitnilski said.

Bulgarian Olympic Committee president Ivan Slavkov had officially invited Kim to visit Bulgaria.

He had been scheduled to inspect the rowing channel near the city of Plovdiv. South Korean rowers are considering using the venue as a training base ahead of next year's Olympics in neighboring Greece.

Interpol President Jesus Mira told reporters during a visit Friday to Bulgaria that he wanted to thank the Bulgarian authorities "for their professional reaction" in arresting Kim.

Interpol issued a worldwide warrant for Kim's arrest in 2000, he said.

"Among the crimes he had committed are fraud and document forgery in New York City between 1995 and 1999. During this period he represented the Keystone Communications Co.," Mira said.

In the main Salt Lake case, a federal appeals court reinstated bribery racketeering charges against Salt Lake City bid chief Tom Welch and deputy Dave Johnson, who face an October trial.

The two men were accused of plying IOC delegates in the early 1990s with $US1 million in cash and gifts ranging from medical care to U.S. scholarships and jobs for family members. The scandal forced the expulsion or resignation of 10 IOC members as the organization tightened bidding rules.

Kim Un-yong was handed a "most severe" warning by an IOC ethics panel that said he used his influence in international sports to further his son's career. The senior Kim, who finished second in the 2001 race for IOC president, said he didn't know the job was arranged as part of Salt Lake's bid campaign.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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