On Sunday, authorities raided the house of ruling party Rep. Park Sang-eun’s eldest son and five other firms believed to have lobbied the lawmaker as part of investigations into the corruption scandal. The Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office has been expanding its probe into influence-peddling allegations involving officials and the maritime industry in the wake of the Sewol disaster that left over 300 dead or missing on April 16. The Korean government believes that deeply rooted corruption between officials and related businesses may have allowed the ship operator to overlook the safety of the passenger vessel.
It was reported on Wednesday that about 600 million won in cash, including U.S. dollars and Japanese yen, was found during the raid. Park’s son, currently working as a lawyer, was questioned over the source of the money and whether it was obtained in connection to his father. The prosecution is considering summoning Rep. Park for questioning soon to find the link between him and the cash.
|Park Sang-eun ( Yonhap)|
Rep. Park, a two-term lawmaker, was re-elected in a constituency in Incheon, west of Seoul. He has allegedly maintained a cozy relationship with shipping and construction firms doing business in the region. The lawmaker served as vice chairman of the Sea Power League of the Republic of Korea, a nonprofit organization launched to support the government’s maritime policies, and cochairman of a parliamentary forum on maritime economy.
The prosecution has been zeroing in on Rep. Park as it obtained intelligence and evidence that he received bribes from maritime companies in recent years.
On Sunday, the lawmaker’s driver, identified only by his surname Kim, submitted a briefcase filled with cash and documents to the prosecution. The development came after the lawmaker reported to the police last week that 20 million won in cash and documents were stolen from his car. It was later found that the driver took the bag to accuse his employer of accepting illegal political funds.
Rep. Park denied the allegation. The ruling party lawmaker claimed on Monday that he took the money from his house to hire a lawyer to deal with other suspicions surrounding him.
Speculations over Rep. Park and the origin of the money are mounting after reports that the lawmaker didn’t even know how much money was in the bag. He reported that 20 million won was stolen. But unlike Park’s claim, the investigators found that it carried 30 million won, local reports said.
By Cho Chung-un (firstname.lastname@example.org)