The U.S. subsidiary of a fourth South Korean corporation was indicted Wednesday on charges of funneling illegal campaign contributions to California Rep. Jay C. Kim.
Daewoo International (America) Corp. was accused of laundering $5,000 through employee conduits to Kim's 1992 campaign and has agreed to plead guilty to two misdemeanor counts, said Assistant U.S. Atty. Edward B. Moreton Jr.
The company is part of the Daewoo Group, one of South Korea's biggest industrial conglomerates.
Since December, three other Korean-based companies--Hyundai Motor America, Korean Airlines and Samsung America--have pleaded guilty to similar charges and paid fines totaling $1 million, the largest ever under the Federal Election Campaign Act.
Daewoo's criminal defense lawyer, William J. Genego, said the company regrets its actions and will cooperate with the government in what has been described as an ongoing investigation of campaign finance fraud.
Details of the agreement, including Daewoo's fine, will become public when the company enters its guilty plea at a federal court hearing April 15.
Daewoo was charged with breaking the law by making a corporate contribution to a federal election campaign and by laundering the donation through three company executives.
Kim, the first Korean American elected to Congress, has not been charged in the case, although his attorney has said he assumes his client is a target of the FBI's three-year probe.
From his office in Washington, Kim issued a statement that "neither my campaign nor I had any knowledge that Daewoo or any other corporation reimbursed the personal contributions of its employees. As this was an internal corporate action, there was no way my campaign or I could have known about such reimbursements."
Kim, a former mayor of Diamond Bar, represents the heavily Republican 41st District that includes parts of Los Angeles, Orange and San Bernardino counties. He was renominated for a third term Tuesday by a 58% to 42% margin over GOP rival Bill Kerns, who sought to paint Kim as corrupt.
Government attorneys have refused to say whether the congressman is a target or whether other Korean-based companies might be indicted.
Thus far, the probe has produced only one case set for trial. Paul Koh, controller for Hyundai Motor America, was arraigned this week on felony charges of conspiracy as well as causing and aiding and abetting in the filing of fraudulent campaign statements to the Federal Election Commission. He has pleaded not guilty.