Rep. Lee Sang-deuk, elder brother of President Lee Myung-bak, said Thursday that 700 million won ($626,000) in his secretary’s bank account belongs to him.
The six-term lawmaker denied that the money was a slush fund or political kickback, claiming it to be his personal property. Still, he is likely to be questioned over the money.
According to Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, Lee submitted a document purporting to prove his ownership of the money to prosecutors investigating a bribery scandal involving Park Byung-su, his close aide of 16 years. Park is suspected of having accepted about 600 million won in bribes from SLS group chairman Lee Kuk-chul.
Park allegedly raked in more than 1 billion won from businessmen and others seeking Lee Sang-deuk’s favor.
Lee Kuk-chul has been arrested for providing cash, vehicles and other favors to high-ranking officials and politicians in exchange for business favors. Those he bribed include former Vice Culture Minister Shin Jae-min. Prosecutors are examining whether Rep. Lee’s aide, Park, accepted the money on condition of a promise to influence higher ups in a bid to get the disgraced businessman out of jail.
Local media said the prosecutors will have to summon Rep. Lee in the near future to ask him whether he was aware of Park’s corruption and whether he took the money from Park. The investigators are also expected to verify whether the money is personal property of the veteran lawmaker, who is regarded as very influential in political and business circles.
“He will have to explain why the money was deposited under a borrowed name,” a prosecutor told a local daily.
Meanwhile, Kim Hak-in, chairman of the Korea Broadcasting Academy, was accused on the same day of having given 200 million won to Lee Sang-deuk’s friends in a bid to win the ruling party nomination for the 2008 general elections.
According to No Cut News, a daily run by Christian Broadcasting System, the prosecutors have secured testimony from a former KBA office clerk that he delivered the money to Rep. Lee’s aides in November 2007. He reportedly said that he and one of his colleagues carried two boxes full of money and that two men from Lee’s office came and loaded them into the boot of their car.
Kim has been arrested for providing another 200 million won to Choi Si-joong, former chairman of the Korea Communications Commission and very close friend of President Lee Myung-bak.
Rep. Lee has yet to comment on the claim.
By Bae Ji-sook (email@example.com