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IRS investigates taekwondo group

May 15, 1997

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) _ The Internal Revenue Service has begun two investigations into the finances of taekwondo’s governing body in the United States, a newspaper reported today.

The (Colorado Springs) Gazette said Michael Weintraub, executive director of the U.S. Taekwondo Union, has confirmed that IRS agents began an audit of USTU president Sang Chul Lee last week and started an audit Monday of the organization.

The investigation was requested by Sen. Steve Largent, R-Okla., who said he has received complaints from his constituents about the union’s operations.

``We have absolutely no indication at this time of any jeopardy to our status as taekwondo’s national governing body,″ Weintraub told The Gazette Wednesday.

U.S. Olympic Committee officials have criticized the USTU’s financial practices for several years. The USOC issued a stinging critique of the USTU and ordered several changes following an audit in 1992.

But USOC officials said an audit conducted at the end of 1996 indicated the union had made only minor changes in its financial practices despite promises to correct problem areas.

Weintraub said the IRS also has questioned many USTU financial practices but predicted the agency would not find any wrongdoing.

The investigation is the latest development in a struggle within the organization that peaked last fall when former USTU vice president So Hok Kang said he discovered Sang Chul Lee was using USTU funds to pay for the U.S. Open Taekwondo Championships in 1995 and 1996.

Sang Chul Lee then accused Kang of misusing USTU funds between 1993 and 1995 while he headed the organization’s exchange programs.

The USTU’s board of governors created a committee that hired the international accounting firm of Coopers and Lybrand to begin an independent investigation.

The firm said Lee submitted a total of $134,226 in unsubstantiated expenses and $74,489 in inappropriate expenses between 1994 and 1996.

The investigation into Kang’s expenses was based on receipts provided by Sang Chul Lee. Those receipts showed Kang had $109,130 in unsubstantiated expenses from 1993-95 and $164,009 in ``questionable″ receipts for those years, according to the auditors.

But Kang has since provided receipts to support his expenditures and was cleared of wrongdoing by the 1996 USOC audit.

A second USTU investigative committee appointed by Sang Chul Lee cleared him of wrongdoing in mid-January. But the USOC audit, issued a few days later, was inconclusive.

Any IRS report would come later this summer.

Taekwondo is an Olympic sport and will be contested at the 2000 Sydney Games.

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