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More teams admit to illegal deals with Nexen Heroes

June 01,2018
The Korea Baseball Organization (KBO) announced Wednesday that six clubs have admitted to making illegal trades with the Nexen Heroes, with millions of dollars changing hands under the table.

The Heroes acknowledged on Monday that they had received cash in separate deals with the NC Dinos and the KT Wiz in 2017 without properly reporting the transactions to the KBO. The league office said it would launch an investigation into past trades and encouraged other clubs to step forward if they had done similar trades with the Heroes.

Trading players for cash isn’t banned by the KBO per se, but the Heroes, the Dinos and the Wiz never reported the money changing hands when they submitted the deals to the KBO for approval.

And by Wednesday, the Kia Tigers, LG Twins, Samsung Lions, Doosan Bears, Hanwha Eagles and Lotte Giants admitted to similar wrongdoings. They either sent cash to the Heroes under the table, or paid them larger amounts of money than what was officially approved by the KBO.

Of 23 trades pulled off by the Heroes between December 2009 and January 2018, 12 involved illegal money transactions, and the amount of unreported money totaled 13.15 billion won ($12.22 million).

One prominent deal involved one-time Minnesota Twins designated hitter Park Byung-ho, who came over from the Twins in a trade in July 2011. The teams reported to the KBO that there was no cash consideration, but the Heroes actually received 1.5 billion won.

In a deal in December 2009, the Heroes sent former Arizona Diamondbacks closer Kim Byung-hyun to the Tigers for pitcher Kim Young-gwang. No cash was reported at first, but the Heroes ended up taking 500 million won from the Tigers.

By club, the Giants shelled out the most money with 4.1 billion won, followed by the Twins with 2.8 billion won and the Bears with 2 billion won.

After getting briefed on the situation, KBO Commissioner Chung Un-chan told his staff that the league office should shoulder some of the blame and added, “We have to take a closer look at our own operations.”

In recent seasons, the KBO has dealt with a slew of scandals, such as match fixing, players’ illegal gambling, domestic violence and sexual assault allegations.

The league’s announcement leaves the SK Wyverns as the only club in the 10-team competition that hasn’t engaged in an illegal trade with the Heroes. These two teams have made two deals ? one in 2012 and another in 2017.

The KBO said its special investigation committee, formed Tuesday with legal and accounting experts on board in light of the Heroes’ first admission, will examine the clubs’ data further and determine whether to open disciplinary proceedings against them.

Earlier in the week, the KBO said it will force the Heroes to return the 600 million won they had received from the Wiz and the Dinos in their 2017 deals. That 600 million won is part of the 13.15 billion won disclosed on Wednesday. And it wasn’t immediately clear if the KBO would order the Heroes to pay back all of that money, which would drive the already struggling club to bankruptcy.

The Heroes joined the KBO in 2008 in place of the bankrupt Hyundai Unicorns. The Heroes, too, have been strapped for cash for most of their existence, and they had denied allegations that they were dumping players for cash until this week.

When they first came into the league, the Heroes paid a league entry fee of 12 billion won, which is less than what they had made under the table in the dozen illegal trades over the past 10 years.

Yonhap