A former GM manager working in the automaker’s Global Purchasing and Supply Chain department has been arrested over allegations he took bribes from a parts supplier in exchange for awarding it with lucrative work contracts.
The former GM manager, 46-year-old Hyoung Nam So, allegedly took roughly $3.45 million in bribes from a South Korean auto parts supplier in late 2015, according to The Los Angeles Times. In exchange, So ensured the company would receive a $35 million contract from GM to supply the automaker with auto painting services, as well as window film and trim molding.
So first met with executives of the unnamed auto parts supplier in South Korea in October of 2015. They arranged for money brokers in South Korea and Los Angeles to transfer $1 million in cash to the United States, with an unnamed accomplice agreeing to drive the money from L.A. to Michigan, where So obtained it at a hotel in Troy, Mich. Once the contract was awarded to the supplier, the remaining $2.45 million was transferred to So, with the accomplice this time meeting the GM executive at a restaurant in Detroit.
It’s not clear how authorities were turned onto So’s scheme, however prosecutors say the bribery amount is much higher than is typically seen in illegal corporate bribes, with Assistant U.S. Atty. Jeff Mitchell describing it as “very significant.”
A GM spokesperson provided the following comment on the matter when approached by The Los Angeles Times:
“General Motors does not tolerate or condone corruption or bribery of any kind,” the spokesperson said. “The illegal conduct alleged here is entirely inconsistent with our code of conduct and corporate policies.”
The unnamed auto parts supplier in South Korea has also been prosecuted over the matter, The LA Times reports.