The Supreme Court overturned the decisions of a Seoul district and appellate court against ruling party lawmaker Chung Doo-un for taking illicit kickbacks and ruled in favor of a retrial on Thursday.
Its verdict clarified that “there is no objective evidence which could prove the charges that (Rep. Chung of the Saenuri Party) received illicit slush funds” from the head of a secondary bank.
The top court added that the testimony of Lim Suk of the now-defunct Solomon Savings Bank was inconsistent.
It also reversed the initial ruling of the Seoul District Court and some of the secondary rulings of the Seoul High Court that Chung, as a close confidant of former President Lee Myung-bak, had colluded with Lee’s older brother, the political heavyweight Lee Sang-deuk, in receiving other bribes.
Chung, a three-term lawmaker, is entitled to retain his seat in the National Assembly until at least the July 30 by-elections.
Under the Public Official Election Act, a lawmaker subject to a confirmed prison term or a fine of 1 million won ($980) or more must be stripped of his or her parliamentary seat.
Chung was sentenced to one year in prison and fined 104 million won by the Seoul District Court.
During the 2007 presidential campaign, Chung was indicted without detention for allegedly receiving a total of 440 million won from Lim of Solomon Savings Bank.
Of this sum, Chung is alleged to have received 30 million won from Lim in September 2007, with 100 million won delivered to his aide in March 2008, just before the National Assembly election.
This was followed by 300 million won in October of 2007 that Chung allegedly received at the request of former lawmaker Lee Sang-deuk. Further, Chung was suspected of having received an additional 10 million won from Lim in April 2012.
The Supreme Court, in the same ruling, confirmed a prison term of one year and two months handed down to Lee Sang-deuk. He was found guilty of taking a total of 750 million won in bribes from a local company and two troubled savings banks between 2007 and 2011.
Lee was released from prison last year after serving his jail term and will not do any additional jail time.
The highest court also confirmed a 5 million won fine levied on Rep. Sung Woan-jong of the Saenuri Party for illegal electioneering, depriving him of his Assembly seat.
By Kim Yon-se (firstname.lastname@example.org)