Prosecutors have investigated nearly 20 close associates and relatives of former President Lee Myung-bak as they look into corruption allegations against Lee.
The associates implicated include Choi See-joong, former head of the Korea Communications Commission, known to be Lee’s mentor; Kim Paik-joon, former senior presidential secretary for administrative affairs often dubbed as Lee’s “butler”; and Lee Byung-mo, executive secretary of the Cheonggye Foundation who managed the former president’s assets.
Relatives under investigation include Lee’s wife Kim Yoon-ok, son Lee Si-hyung, eldest brother and Chairman of DAS Lee Sang-eun, second elder brother and former lawmaker Lee Sang-deuk, nephews Lee Dong-hyung and Kim Dong-hyeok, and son-in-law Lee Sang-joo.
Former President Lee Myung-bak. Yonhap
Not all of them may be put on trial, but many are likely to be indicted. Kim Paik-joon, Lee Byung-mo, former Presidential Secretary for Civil Affairs Kim Jin-mo and chief of a DAS subcontractor Lee Young-bae are already standing trial.
Prosecutors indicted Kim Paik-joon for receiving 400 million won ($375,000) from the state spy agency’s audit-free “special activities” account. Kim Jin-mo was indicted on charges of bribery and embezzlement for allegedly taking money from the National Intelligence Service. Another former Cheong Wa Dae official Chang Dasaro is expected to be put on trial for using the NIS’ funds to conduct illegal opinion polls ahead of parliamentary elections.
Prosecutors have also investigated former senior presidential aide for political affairs Bahk Jae-wan, former NIS chiefs Kim Sung-ho and Won Sei-hoon over the NIS funds scandal.
The former president’s brother Lee Sang-deuk has been grilled as a suspect on suspicions that he took 100 million won from the NIS, and other illicit funds including 800 million won from Lee Pal-seung, former chairman of Woori Financial Holdings, in exchange for his appointment.
The ex-president’s son-in-law Lee Sang-joo has also been questioned over allegations that he received 1.45 billion won from Lee Pal-seung. The prosecution also interrogated or raided the offices and residences of Choi See-joong, the former president’s college friend Chun Shin-il, former Vice Minister of Knowledge Economy Park Young-joon and the chief of Cheonggye Foundation Song Jung-ho over their suspected involvement in bribery allegations.
Even if those implicated claim that they merely delivered the illicit funds, they are likely to face criminal charges, according to sources in the prosecution.
As for the irregularities at DAS, an auto parts manufacturer owned by Lee Sang-eun on paper, Lee Byung-mo has been indicted on charges of embezzlement, breach of trust and destruction of evidence. In the indictment of Lee, prosecutors stated the former president’s son Lee Si-hyung as an accomplice.
Prosecutors also indicted Lee Young-bae for embezzlement and incurring losses to his firm by extending an unsecured loan at an extremely low interest rate to Lee Si-hyung’s company.
The ex-president’s nephew and Vice President of DAS Lee Dong-hyung was also investigated for allegedly accepting illicit funds from a subcontractor.
The former president’s wife Kim Yoon-ok is suspected of taking $100,000 from the NIS funds via a presidential secretary, and some of the illicit funds received through her son-in-law Lee Sang-joo.
By Kim So-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)