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Construction firm chief to be grilled in graft probe

The prosecution said Thursday it will summon the head of a local construction firm on Friday to question him over alleged embezzlement and the misuse of funds involving a resources development project by the previous Lee Myung-bak administration.

Sung Woan-jong, the chairman of Keangnam Enterprises, is accused of masterminding the company’s misuse of 33 billion won ($30 million) provided by the Lee administration as part of its overseas energy project. The 63-year-old former lawmaker is also believed to have created a slush fund of up to 15 million won from this amount.

Investigators have called in Sung’s wife and Keangnam’s vice president surnamed Han on Wednesday for questioning over their involvement. Prosecutors have reportedly acquired evidence that high-ranking officials at Keangnam created the slush funds via its associated companies.

Sung is to arrive at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office at 10 a.m., and prosecutors will decide whether to request a preliminary arrest warrant after the questioning.

The prosecution has been zeroing in on a series of corruption allegations surrounding Lee administration’s so-called “energy diplomacy,” a now-defunct multibillion dollar project that sought to develop overseas energy resources. Steelmakers POSCO and Dongkuk Steel, along with state-run National Oil Corp., are also facing an investigation.

Rival parties at the parliamentary committee for the overseas projects have locked horns over whether they should request the former president to attend the hearing. A local polling firm Realmeter said Thursday that 67.2 percent of respondents in a recent poll said Lee should testify in the hearing.

By Yoon Min-sik minsikyoon@heraldcorp.com)
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