Investigators questioned Rep. Park Sang-eun of the Saenuri Party over bribery allegations at the Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office on Thursday.
The second-term governing party lawmaker is under suspicion of taking illicit funds from either candidates who attempted to run in the June 4 local elections or from regional CEOs in the construction industry in Incheon.
The prosecution has been striving to reveal the source of the 630 million won ($611,000) that was found in cash in Park’s sedan and at his son’s residence.
After Park’s chauffeur voluntarily notified the prosecution of the 30 million won in the car’s trunk on June 12, stating that the source was uncertain, the prosecution further investigated. Through raids on June 15, investigators discovered 600 million won at Park’s oldest son’s house.
Prosecutors allege that Park was seeking to evade an investigation into his slush fund in the political sector by voluntarily reporting the “unauthentic” money of 30 million won.
Park had already been investigated over his cozy relations with a construction firm in Incheon.
Additionally, speculation has risen in political circles that Park probably received the money in return for his help from those eager to be nominated by the ruling party for the June polls.
If Park is found to have received illegal funds, there is a high possibility that the prosecution will widen the scope of its inquiry into the overall political sector.
A series of allegations have been raised in connection with candidates and possibly some elected figures after the June 4 local elections and July 30 by-elections.
When asked about the allegations by reporters before the prosecutors’ office, Park mentioned nothing. He had denied the suspicions during a meeting with his party members. Park clarified that he “did not receive any money during the process of nominating candidates and hopes the prosecution will promptly investigate the case and induce a wise conclusion.”
Later in the day, the prosecution asked the Seoul Central District Court to issue a preliminary arrest warrant for Rep. Jo Hyun-yong of the Saenuri Party on bribery charges and violation of the Political Funds Act, aiming at possibly taking him into custody depending on further investigation.
Jo is suspected of receiving bribes worth 160 million won from railroad track component maker Sampyo E&C in return for using his position to help the company win contracts for a number of railway projects.
The ruling party lawmaker denied the allegations during a meeting with reporters on Wednesday, when he was summoned to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. Jo only said that he would answer the investigators’ questions.
Jo left the prosecutors’ office in southern Seoul on Thursday morning after facing about 16 hours of questioning.
By Kim Yon-se (firstname.lastname@example.org)