Lee Hyun-dong was allegedly paid tens of millions of won by the National Intelligence Service around 2010 while serving as a deputy commissioner at the NTS to help track down Kim’s slush fund rumored to be stashed abroad.
|Former National Tax Service chief Lee Hyun-dong appears at the Central District Prosecutors` Office for questioning on Wednesday. Yonhap|
The money Lee Hyun-dong allegedly took came from NIS funds set aside for North Korea-related intelligence operations.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said Lee Hyun-dong faces charges of bribery and loss of state funds.
Under a secret operation code-named “Davidson,” a small number of NIS and NTS officials traced the cash flows among Kim and his associates, and paid a large sum of money to get information out of a Korean-American employee of the US Internal Revenue Service, according to the prosecution.
After a two-year probe, the NIS concluded that the rumors about Kim’s overseas slush fund were groundless.
Prosecutors plan to find out if Lee Hyun-dong was instructed by the presidential office to assist the spy agency’s illegal operation.
Lee Hyun-dong, who headed the NTS from 2010 to 2013, was one of the bigwigs under the Lee Myung-bak administration as he worked on the former president’s transition team and was later dispatched to the presidential office.
In its widening inquiry into the provision of NIS funds to the presidential office under previous administrations, the prosecution has identified former President Lee as a suspect of bribery and loss of state funds.
In its indictment of Lee’s former presidential aide Kim Paik-joon, the prosecution wrote that Lee and the chief of the NIS “conspired” to arbitrarily withdraw and use 400 million won ($368,000) that was allotted for NIS’ special activities for an unrelated purpose.
It also wrote that the former president accepted 400 million won in bribes from the NIS chief, and Kim abetted Lee’s crime, according to the indictment papers obtained and disclosed by Rep. Jeon Hae-cheol of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea.
According to the prosecution, Lee instructed then-NIS chief Kim Sung-ho to provide 200 million won to Kim around April 2008.
Prosecutors have also obtained testimony that in July 2010, Lee demanded then NIS chief Won Sei-hoon to hand over 200 million won to Kim.
Prosecutors are also investigating allegations that Lee’s aides used the NIS’ special activities funds to conduct illegal opinion polls ahead of the general elections in 2008, and that the former president’s wife received 100 million won of the NIS funds in 2011.
By Kim So-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)