NATIONAL

Speaker’s ex-aide detained in GNP vote-buying case

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Jan 11, 2012 - 16:11
  • Updated : Jan 11, 2012 - 18:56
Prosecutors investigating alleged bribery in a Grand National Party leadership election raided the home of Parliamentary Speaker Park Hee-tae’s former secretary Koh Myung-jin on Wednesday.

Koh is suspected of having been involved in the alleged bribery case.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office executed a search and seizure warrant on Koh’s home in Goyang, Gyeonggi Province early Wednesday morning, and took a number of documents and a laptop as evidence.
Koh Myung-jin

Koh presented himself at the prosecutors’ office later in the day for questioning.

Rep. Koh Seung-duk has accused Park of bribing GNP lawmakers in the run up to party chairman elections in July 2008.

Rep. Koh, also of the GNP, claimed that bribes were used to secure votes in the 2008 election. When questioned by the prosecutors, the lawyer-turned-politician said that 3 million won ($2,600) was handed to his secretary by a man wearing black horn-rimmed spectacles.

Rep. Koh claims that he sent the money back through his aide identified by his surname Kim on July 4, 2008, the day after the vote.

Kim is said to have received a business card from Koh Myung-jin, who was then a secretary to Park, upon returning the money.

Although the investigators suspect that Koh Myung-jin may be the man with the black horn-rimmed spectacles, no evidence to support the suspicion has turned up as yet.

He is currently working as an aide to another GNP lawmaker.

Aside from raiding Koh’s home, the investigators are focusing on tracking down the source of the funds, and have reinforced the investigation team on Monday bringing in prosecutors from financial and tax investigation teams

Having only Rep. Koh’s testimony to go on, the investigators are said to be focusing on financial records of Park and his close aides.

With the investigators looking into the origins of the funds used in the alleged bribery, those involved in the allegations could be investigated for violation of the Political Fund Act in addition to offences under the Political Parties Act.

In addition, the prosecutors’ office is said to be considering summoning Park, setting a new precedent.

According to sources, Park is likely to be summoned after he returns to Korea on Jan. 18, but before the start of the Lunar New Year holidays, which begin on Jan. 22.

Park is currently touring four Asian nations to meet with his counterparts.

By Choi He-suk  (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)