An ex-General Motors manager has been arrested on a federal bribery charge alleging that he solicited a $5 million bribe from a South Korean parts supplier to secure a deal with GM.
Hyoung Nam So surrendered to authorities on March 24 after a federal grand jury charged him with bribery conspiracy. The 46-year-old, who was also known as Brian So, received $3.45 million in cash from the parts supplier in late 2015 after rigging the bids on a contract to supply GM with painting, window film, and window molding parts.
So served as a manager of GM’s Global Purchasing and Supply Chain organization at the time and oversaw the supply of parts used to build the interiors of GM vehicles. So had requested $5 million in cash to secure the contract in October 2015.
The Department of Justice states that in November 2015, the owner of the parts supplier, simply known as ‘Company B’ in the indictment, arranged to have $1 million in cash transferred to the U.S. through money brokers. This money was then delivered in cash to So at a hotel in Troy, Michigan.
So soon found out that the company was no longer the lowest bidder on the contract but on December 8, 2015, he still recommended GM to award them the contract and that’s exactly what they did. On December 20, So was paid another $2.45 million at a Detroit restaurant and the following day, he arranged for the supplier to be told that it had won the contract.
Agents from U.S. Homeland Security Investigations seized $3.19 million in cash from a private vault in Los Altos in 2017 and believe it was part of the bribe proceeds. This money was returned to South Korean authorities.
So has been charged with one count of conspiracy to commit federal funds bribery which carries a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison.
General Motors told the Detroit Free Press that it is cooperating with authorities.
“General Motors does not tolerate or condone corruption or bribery of any kind. The illegal conduct alleged here is entirely inconsistent with our code of conduct and corporate policies. We have cooperated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California throughout the process, which has confirmed that GM is neither a target nor subject of the investigation.”