|Park Jie-won. (Yonhap News)|
A Seoul court on Tuesday acquitted a veteran opposition lawmaker of charges that he accepted illegal campaign funds from two troubled savings banks.
Park Jie-won of the main opposition Democratic Party was indicted on charges of receiving a combined 80 million won ($72,000) from the heads of Solomon and Bohae savings banks between 2008 and 2011 in return for lobbying for the survival of the ailing lenders.
The Seoul Central District Court delivered a not-guilty verdict to the three-term lawmaker, citing a lack of logic and objectivity in the testimony of the alleged bribe givers. The testimony was the only evidence presented to the court by prosecutors.
“The testimony was consistent but was not detailed and convincing enough,” presiding judge Lee Jeong-seok said in the ruling, adding that it is difficult to rule out the possibility that the heads of the banks made false statements.
Park, a former DP floor leader, was charged with taking around 20 million won in illegal political funds from chairman Lim Suk of the now-suspended Solomon Savings Bank in March 2008.
He was also alleged to have received 30 million won from the now-jailed former chairman of Bohae Mutual Savings Bank, Oh Moon-chol, in June 2010, in return for influence peddling on behalf of the savings bank.
“The prosecution was trying to kill me by unfairly targeting me with the investigation but I survived,” Park told reporters following the verdict. Park served as a chief of staff under late President Kim Dae-jung.
The lawmaker was also sentenced to three years in jail in 2006 for receiving kickbacks from several local conglomerates but was pardoned by late President Roh Moo-hyun the following year.
Park stepped down from the position of floor leader in December 2012. (Yonhap News)