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Buddhist monks held over tax scam

AAP, July 5, 2007

Gwangju, South Korea -- FOUR South Korean Buddhist monks have been arrested for their part in an income tax scam involving the sale of fake donation receipts, a report said.

The temple chiefs in the southwestern city of Gwangju were detained on Monday, the JoongAng Daily said.

The scheme aimed to help 2,570 workers evade a total of $2.1 billion won ($2.28 million) in tax in 2005-2006, the paper said.

Donations to charities, schools and religious organisations are tax-deductible up to a certain amount.

Some monks even distributed pamphlets advertising the fake donation service, prosecutors were quoted as saying.

"These temples were businesses selling fake receipts rather than religious organisations,'' said prosecutor Jo Myeong-Sun.

The finance ministry said it plans to crack down on the racket, including tougher punishment for offenders.

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