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Press Release

Former General Motors Manager Found Guilty of Conspiring to Receive Bribe from Foreign Parts Supplier Seeking Contract

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Central District of California

LOS ANGELES – A former manager at General Motors was found guilty by a jury today of conspiring to solicit and receive a $5 million bribe from a South Korean company in return for a promise to deliver a contract in excess of $100 million for various car parts.

Hyoung Nam So, 48, a.k.a. “Brian So,” of Irvine, was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to commit bribery.

According to evidence presented at a seven-day trial, in 2015 a foreign parts supplier paid So a total of $3.45 million in cash. As a manager and team leader at General Motors (GM), So oversaw the supply of parts used to build interiors for GM automobiles in North America. In October 2015, So promised the contract – which was to be awarded through a competitive bidding process – to the owner of the South Korean parts company – Wookyung MIT – in exchange for $5 million, which So demanded in cash.

The following month, the owner of Wookyung MIT arranged to have $1 million in cash transferred from South Korea to Los Angeles through money brokers, which an accomplice then drove to Troy, Michigan, where So was then living. The owner of Wookyung MIT flew to Detroit in late November 2015 and personally delivered the cash to So during a meeting at a hotel in Troy.

By the time So received the first $1 million installment of the bribe payment, he had already learned that Wookyung MIT was not the lowest bidder on the contract.  So arranged for information to be provided to Wookyung MIT that would allow it to revise its bid. On December 8, 2015, So recommended to GM executives that the contract be awarded to Wookyung MIT, and the contract was awarded to Wookyung MIT on the same day.

So refrained from notifying Wookyung MIT that it had won the contract and continued to withhold that information until Wookyung MIT’s owner paid the remaining portion of the bribe. That occurred on December 20, 2015, when the owner of Wookyung MIT paid So $2.45 million in cash at a restaurant in Detroit – cash that also had been driven from Los Angeles to Michigan. The following day, So arranged for Wookyung MIT to be informed that it had won the contract.

Homeland Security Investigations seized $3.19 million believed to be proceeds from the bribery scheme from a private vault in Los Altos in 2017, and HSI subsequently returned the money to South Korean authorities.

The owner of Wookyung MIT was prosecuted in South Korea for offenses related to the bribery scheme.

United States District Judge André Birotte Jr. scheduled a May 24, 2024 sentencing hearing, at which time So will face a statutory maximum sentence of five years in federal prison.

The investigation into the bribery scheme was conducted by HSI’s Los Angeles El Camino Real Financial Crimes Task Force, a multi-agency task force comprised of federal and state investigators who are focused on financial crimes in Southern California. The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided substantial assistance during the investigation.

Assistant United States Attorneys Jeff Mitchell and David Y. Pi of the Major Frauds Section are prosecuting this case.


Ciaran McEvoy
Public Information Officer
(213) 894-4465

Updated November 16, 2023

Press Release Number: 23-250