Rep. Shin Geh-ryeun of the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy was questioned by the prosecution Tuesday over allegations that he received kickbacks from a local art school in exchange for business favors.
The lawmaker is suspected of taking 50 million won ($48,500) from Kim Min-seong, head of Seoul Art College, in return for pushing a law that allowed the school to be recognized as a “training school” and eliminate its previous name “vocational institute.”
The prosecution believes that Rep. Shin had pushed for an amendment to the law in September at the request of Kim and that he allegedly received the money on four or five occasions until the bill was passed at the National Assembly in April.
Kim told the prosecution that he offered money to Rep. Shin and others as his plan to replace the name of the school was opposed by the ministries of education and labor.
The prosecution said it would question Rep. Shin on whether he received the money in exchange for business favors. He was questioned as a criminal suspect, officials said, adding that they planned to seek a preliminary arrest warrant for him next week. An overseas travel ban was imposed on Shin as soon as the investigation started.
Two other opposition lawmakers ― Reps. Kim Jae-yun and Shin Hak-yong ― are suspected of accepting bribes from Kim of SAC, in exchange for business favors. The two are to appear before the prosecution on Thursday.
The prosecution said it had secured concrete evidence to prove the bribery allegations by tracking bank accounts and raiding their homes.
Rep. Shin, however, denied the bribery charges pressed against him.
“I don’t accept (the charges). I tabled the bill in accordance with my philosophy and I followed the procedures,” he said before entering Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office.
“The investigation is politically motivated to water down the on-going investigations into two (ruling) Saenuri Party lawmakers,” he said.
Two Saenuri lawmakers are being investigated in separate bribery cases.
Rep. Cho Hyun-ryong is suspected of taking bribes worth hundreds of millions of won from Sampyo Engineering and Construction in return for helping the firm win contracts since August 2008, prosecutors said.
Rep. Park Sang-eun also allegedly received illegal political funding from candidates nominated to run in the June 4 general elections, they added.
By Cho Chung-un, news reports