A weekly magazine reported Tuesday that former Korea Communications Commission Chairman Choi See-joong attempted to bribe pro-Lee Myung-bak lawmakers in 2008.
Choi denies all allegations saying that he has no knowledge of the matter.
Choi is a close confidant of the president and has been dubbed his political mentor.
He served as the chief of the KCC since its launch in 2008 until this sudden resignation on Jan. 27.
According to the report, Choi gave 35 million won ($31,000) to three pro-Lee lawmakers before Chuseok, in 2008, all of which was returned to Choi. The report quoted one of the three lawmakers as saying that after a dinner with Choi before the Lunar New Year holiday in 2008, the former KCC chief said that he had “put it in the car.”
Upon inspection, the unnamed lawmaker found a shopping bag containing 20 million won in the back seat of his car. The lawmaker claimed that he immediately returned the bag to Jeong Yong-wook, former policy aide to Choi within the telecom regulator. Jeong resigned in October and is said to be doing business in Southeast Asia.
The unnamed lawmaker also said that Chung had delivered 10 million won and 5 million won to two other lawmakers, who also refused to accept the money.
Other reports have come out citing unnamed sources who said that Choi has been in the habit of “taking care of” pro-Lee lawmakers, giving them cash on special occasions such as the Lunar New Year and Chuseok holidays.
The source of the funds Choi used for such activities also remains unanswered, and speculation has risen that he may have accessed state funds. Others have raised suspicions that Choi may have acquired the funds from corporations.
The developments follow closely on the heels of earlier allegations that Choi’s aide Jeong had taken and offered bribes.
Jeong is under suspicion of receiving nearly 200 million won from Kim Hak-in, chairman of a college-level vocational school focused on broadcasting careers.
In addition, Jeong is alleged to have offered money to some lawmakers belonging to the parliamentary committee on culture, sports, tourism and broadcasting after a controversial media bill was passed into law in July 2009.
The revised law eliminated ownership restrictions in the media industry, allowing the cross-ownership of newspapers and broadcasting stations for the first time in nearly three decades.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org)
"최시중, 명절ㆍ휴가에 친이 의원들에게.."
최시중 전 방통위원장이 명절 등을 맞아 여권의 일부 친이(친이명박)계 의원들에게 돈봉투를 돌렸다는 정치권 인사들의 진술이 나오 고 있다.
31일 정치권과 주간 시사저널 등 일부 언론보도에 따르면 한 친이계 의원은 "최 위원장이 2008년 9월 추석 직전 친이계 일부 의원들에게 수백만∼수천만원이 든 돈 봉투를 돌렸다"며 "최 위원장이 내게도 줬지만 최 전 의원장의 보좌역이었던 정용욱 씨에게 즉시 돌려줬다"고 말했다.
이 의원은 "최 위원장과 헤어질 때 '차에 쇼핑백을 실어줬다'고 해 나중에 보니 2천만원이 들어 있어 곧바로 돌려줬다"고 설명한 것으로 일부 언론은 보도했다.
또 이 의원 외에 다른 친이계 의원 2명에게도 각각 1천만원과 500만원의 현찰이 정 보좌역을 통해 전달됐으며 이들 역시 즉각 되돌려준 것으로 알려졌다.
비판에 앞장섰던 정두언 의원 측은 그러나 이날 언론에 배포한 자료에서 "최 전 위원장과 관련한 보도내용은 정두언 의원과는 상관없다"는 입장을 밝혔다.
이와 관련해 정치권의 한 인사는 "최 전 위원장 측이 친이계 의원들을 위주로 설연휴와 여름 휴가, 연말이나 출판기념회 때 의원별로 돈봉투를 건네는 등 평소 챙 겼던 것으로 알고 있다"고 전했다.
최시중 전 위원장은 이에 대해 "모르는 일"이라며 "설왕설래에 일일이 대응하지 않을 것"이라고 관련 의혹을 부인했다고 이태희 방통위 대변인이 전했다. (연합뉴스)