Hawaii man, South Korean national charged in bribery case

HONOLULU — A Hawaii man and a South Korean national were charged in the soliciting of $2.8 million in bribes to steer more than $400 million worth of Army engineering and construction work to a South Korea-based company.

Duane Nishiie, 58, a former contracting officer for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, was in custody at the Federal Detention Center in Hawaii, facing counts of conspiracy, bribery, wire fraud, money laundering and lying.

South Korean national Seung-Ju Lee faces the same charges. Nishiie pleaded not guilty Friday. Lee has yet to enter a plea.

Authorities say the charges involve the awarding of two contracts in 2008 and 2010 as part of a massive U.S. Army relocation project in South Korea, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported (http://bit.ly/2xMQkRS).

Lee was an officer in the procurement arm of the Korean Ministry of Defense, which is working with the U.S. government on the Army relocation project.

The indictment does not name the company. No one connected with it has been charged.

The indictment accuses Nishiie of hiding the bribe money by purchasing real estate and putting it in bank accounts in the names of others, including two girlfriends.

Nishiie quit his job with the Army Corps of Engineers in 2012 and started lobbying Defense Department officials for construction projects on behalf of the company that had paid the bribes, according to the indictment.

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