Petraeus scandal figure to lose 'honorary consul' title, South Korean official says

South Korea is stripping Jill Kelley of her title, which carries no official responsibility.

Story highlights

  • A South Korean official says Jill Kelley's use of her honorary title was "not suitable"
  • A New York businessman accused her of using that designation to solicit business
  • Kelley's complaint about harassing e-mails led to the resignation of CIA chief David Petraeus

South Korea is stripping the title of "honorary consul" from Jill Kelley, the Florida socialite embroiled in the scandal that brought down CIA Director David Petraeus, a South Korean official said Monday.

Kelley will lose that designation after a New York businessman accused her of trying to use the honorary title to solicit business, Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Kyou-hyun told the semi-official South Korean news agency Yonhap.

"It's not suitable to the status of honorary consul that (she) sought to be involved in commercial projects and peddle influence. It's also inappropriate as honorary consul," Yonhap quoted Kim as telling South Korean reporters during a visit to Washington.

The Petraeus affair: Who is Jill Kelley?

Kelley's title, which carries no official responsibility, came to light after Petraeus abruptly resigned on November 9 and admitted to an extramarital affair. Federal investigators learned of the affair after Kelley complained to an FBI agent that she was receiving harassing e-mails from a woman later identified as Petraeus's mistress, Paula Broadwell.

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Kelley and her husband, Scott, a doctor, hosted parties at their Tampa home for top officers at the nearby headquarters of U.S. Central Command.

After Petraeus resigned, Kelley soon found herself facing questions about flirty e-mails shared with another top U.S. commander, Gen. John Allen, and she invoked her honorary title when she called police on November 11 to complain about reporters besieging her home.

Kelley asked for $80 million to influence South Korea deal, businessman says

"I am an honorary consul general," Kelley tells police on a recording of the call. "... I have inviolability. They should not be on my property. I don't know if you want to get diplomatic, uh, protection involved as well."

South Korean officials tell CNN that "an honorary consul can generally play a role of promoting trade and economic cooperation between the two countries." It does not, however, carry diplomatic immunity.

A few days later, a New York businessman told CNN that Kelley asked him for an $80 million commission if she used her influence to win a South Korean business contract. She claimed to have been a high-level representative of the South Korean government, energy executive Adam Victor said.

Tricky nature of investigating Gen. Allen's emails

Kelley has kept a low profile and has not returned CNN phone calls seeking comment about the "honorary consul" title. Allen, the current U.S. commander in Afghanistan, has denied any wrongdoing, a senior defense official told CNN, and sources familiar with Kelley have said the relationship between the two was not sexual.

The White House has said that President Barack Obama continues to have faith in Allen's leadership -- but Allen's nomination to become NATO's supreme allied commander has been put on hold pending the outcome of an investigation, White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

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