The courts in Seoul and Incheon on Thursday issued arrest warrants for three incumbent lawmakers, who have been on suspicion of taking kickbacks, to take them into custody.
The three are the ruling Saenuri Party’s Reps. Jo Hyun-yong and Park Sang-eun and the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy’s Rep. Kim Jae-yun.
The Incheon District Court cited fears that Park, 65, may flee or destroy evidence after holding the warrant hearing earlier in the day to review the documents proposed by the prosecution.
The second-term governing party lawmaker is under suspicion of receiving 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.
Park reporteldy denied the charges during the warrant hearing, which was conducted for about 100 minutes.
Jo Hyun-yong 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 Saenuri lawmaker earlier denied the allegations during a meeting with reporters on Aug. 6, when he was summoned to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office.
Opposition lawmaker Kim Jae-yun has been on charges of receiving kickbacks worth 15 million won in return for omitting the term “vocational” from the Korean name of Seoul Arts College.
The Seoul Central District Court, however, rejected the prosecution's proposal to issue arrest warrants for Reps. Sin Geh-ryeun and Shin Hak-yong of the main opposition NPAD.
Sin Geh-ryeun has been on suspicion of taking 50 million won in bribes, from Seoul Arts College. Shin Hak-yong was also reportedly involved in the alleged bribery.
In an earlier statement, Sin said that he “has not received kickbacks concerning the school name-change approval.”
Shin had also said, “Though my aides were investigated by the prosecution, I have not been connected to the case.”
NPAD lawmakers and some political pundits claimed that the prosecution is seeking to suppress the opposition party in an alleged bid to offset its various faults in its manhunt for the sunken ferry Sewol owner Yoo Byung-eun, who was found dead on June 12.
Meanwhile, the prosecution on the same day asked the court to issue a warrant for Rep. Song Kwang-ho of the Saenuri Party for taking bribes worth 55 million won from a railway subcontractor.
By Kim Yon-se (firstname.lastname@example.org