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South Korea to strip Kelley of honorary consul status

TBO.com
Associated Press
The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 14, 2013 at 02:23 AM

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South Korea will revoke an honorary title given to Tampa socialite Jill Kelley, who is tied to a scandal involving former CIA Director David Petraeus, officials said.

Kelley misused her title as South Korean honorary consul by raising it in unspecified personal business dealings, a Foreign Ministry official in Seoul said. The official, who declined to be named because the matter is still being discussed, wouldn't elaborate and said it's not clear when the title will be revoked.

Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Kyou-hyun told South Korean reporters Monday during a visit to Washington that Kelley inappropriately used her title.

"It's not suitable to the status of honorary consul that (she) sought to be involved in commercial projects and peddle influence," Kim said, according to Yonhap news agency, the official news agency of South Korea.

Kelley, 37, unraveled the scandal involving Petraeus that emerged in early November.

Kelley had complained to an FBI agent that she had received threatening emails telling her to stay away from Petraeus, who once commanded Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base. Petraeus got to know Kelley through parties and events across Tampa.

Agents tracked the emails to Petraeus biographer Paula Broadwell, who was having an affair with the former general.

As the scandal unfolded, so did details about Kelley's life. Accounts of lavish parties at her mansion with politicians and military generals were replaced by reports of her family's financial woes.

Her position as an honorary consul to South Korea also was revealed, as were her efforts to broker business deals on behalf of the country.

A New York businessman said Kelley was introduced to him at the Republican National Convention in Tampa in August as someone whose friendship with Petraeus would help facilitate a no-bid deal with South Korea on a coal-gasification project. She would supposedly be in a position to help broker the billion-dollar deal directly with the South Korean president, and expected a 2 percent commission, said Adam Victor, president and chief executive officer of TransGas Development Systems.

She also tried to establish a relationship between South Korea and the University of South Florida's medical school.

A senior South Korean Foreign Ministry official who handles consulate affairs in the United States said honorary consuls don't have diplomatic immunity and that the ministry applies much less strict rules in appointing them than it does for potential government officials.

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