Ko Young-tae, who has drawn media attention after making public clues to the corruption scandal involving former President Park Geun-hye and her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, has been formally arrested on charges of influence peddling.
The Seoul Central District Court on Saturday approved an arrest warrant for the 41-year-old Ko, who was detained by prosecutors earlier this week on suspicion that he received some 20 million won (US$17,400) from an official at the Incheon-based customs office in exchange for exerting influence on personnel issues.
Ko was also accused of failing to pay back 80 million won he had borrowed from an unidentified person for stock investment, and of co-running an illegal online gambling site after gathering 200 million won from individual investors.
Judge Kwon Soon-ho, who questioned Ko for two hours on Friday, issued a warrant to arrest him around 3 a.m. Saturday, saying his criminal charges were ascertained and there is fear that the suspect may flee and destroy evidence.
Ko reportedly denied all his charges during his Friday hearing.
Ko, who made some clothing items and bags for Park, revealed the controversial relationship between Park and Choi last year, claiming that Choi received and edited the ex-president's speeches in advance. Choi had no policy experience nor did she hold any official post in the Park administration.
While Ko was praised by some as a whistleblower, others raised suspicions that he made the revelations to gain control of a company owned by Choi.
Prosecutors say they have investigated Ko separately from the corruption scandal of Park and Choi (Yonhap)