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Key suspect in Lime fund scandal makes additional claims in 2nd letter from prison

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)
A key suspect in the Lime fund scam case has made additional claims that he identified two prosecutors he lobbied during a justice ministry probe and that he was tipped off about an ongoing investigation against him.

In a second letter sent from prison to Yonhap News Agency on late Wednesday, Kim Bong-hyun, a prime suspect in the financial fraud case involving Lime Asset Management Co., reiterated that he did lobby sitting prosecutors but strongly denied his alleged relations with ruling party politicians or Cheong Wa Dae.

Lime Asset, founded in 2012, has been under probe over its alleged cover-up of massive losses and subsequent suspension of fund redemption worth an estimated 1.6 trillion won ($1.39 billion). Kim was arrested in April on charges of embezzlement from a bus company that allegedly received investment from Lime.

The Lime case has surfaced as a major financial and political minefield amid allegations that Kim lobbied lawmakers and prosecutors to conceal the case and evade investigations.

Kim argued in the letter that it was true that he threw a drinking party for a lawyer as well as three prosecutors who he claimed used to work on the same team investigating Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co.

To back up his claims, he revealed that he had identified two of the three prosecutors in a photo presented by the Ministry of Justice during a probe.

Last Friday, he dropped a bombshell in a letter that he hosted a drinking party in July last year for them in a bar in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul, and that one of the prosecutors later joined a team investigating the Lime scandal.

In the second letter, Kim also argued that he has been close to the lawyer who he apparently believed was influential. He met the lawyer in 2007 for the first time and hired him last year to represent him in his embezzlement case, he said.

"One day, he told me that he bumped into Prosecutor General Yoo Seok-youl in a sauna in an apartment complex in Seocho-dong and that the chief prosecutor asked him to help him prepare for his confirmation hearing," Kim wrote, adding that he "came to trust (the lawyer) more as (the lawyer) was close to Yoon" while implying that he cooperated with the team investigating the Lime case on the lawyer's advice.

Kim also elaborated on his previous lobbying claims by revealing that he gave 50 million won ($44,126) in a bribe in December to former prosecutor Yoon Dae-jin, currently serving as vice chairman of Judicial Research and Training Institute, in connection with the embezzlement case.

He argued that he was tipped off in the early stages of the Lime investigation about how to evade the probe.

Kim, however, strongly denied allegations that he lobbied ruling party politicians, saying that he met with a ruling party politician only once since the scandal and that he met with three ruling party lawmakers in 2016 but that they have nothing to do with the Lime case. (Yonhap)
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