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Police accuse opposition leader of bribe charges

Democratic Party leader Lee Jae-myung (Yonhap)
Democratic Party leader Lee Jae-myung (Yonhap)

The police transferred the case of main opposition Democratic Party of Korea leader Lee Jae-myung on Tuesday to the prosecution, on charges of third-party bribery connected to the Seongnam FC sponsorship scandal.

The Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency handed over the results of a supplementary investigation to the prosecution, in which the provincial police agency found Lee guilty of offering bribes to a third party. This was a reversal of the results of the previous investigation by the Bundang Police Station in Gyeonggi Province.

The police believe that Lee is suspected of changing 9,900 square meters of the Bundang-gu hospital site owned by Doosan Engineering & Construction to commercial land in exchange for attracting 5.5 billion won ($4 million) worth of donations to Seongnam FC, a professional football club, when he was mayor of Seongnam.

The crime of offering bribes to a third party falls under the case where a public official receives an illegal request in return for bribes from a third party.

The police also identified a Seongnam City official as directly involved in the Seongnam FC sponsorship case for the same charges.

The Seongnam FC sponsorship allegation is part of a case in which the Seongnam City government received 16 billion won ($11.6 million) in donations from four Seongnam-based companies, including Doosan Engineering & Construction and Naver between 2014 and 2016. In exchange, the city government provided the companies with perks such as building permits and land use changes.

The police launched an investigation in June 2018 after a complaint was filed, including a third-party bribery charge. But the Bundang police, which was in charge of the case, cleared the case in September of the same year due to insufficient evidence.

However, the police, who were asked by the prosecution to conduct a supplementary investigation in February due to the accuser's objection, has been investigating the case for the past seven months.

The police are also reported to have confirmed that Doosan Engineering & Construction sent an official letter in October 2014 that it would consider sponsoring Seongnam FC if it allowed the hospital site to be changed to one for work facility use.

Based on this, the police raided the Seongnam city government office and Doosan Engineering & Construction's headquarters in May.

The police have never summoned Lee for questioning in connection with the case. The Bundang police, which first investigated the case, only conducted a written investigation once in July last year

The Democratic Party protested against the police's sending of Lee’s case to the prosecution on charges of third-party bribery, calling it "the third round to kill Lee Jae-myung."

Democratic Party spokesman Kim Eui-gyeom met with reporters after the briefing and said, "We will fully utilize the legal procedures and powers given to respond to future countermeasures."

“As we expected that there will be investigation and prosecution until the ‘death’ of Lee Jae-myung is completed, we have no intention of responding to the summons as long as this happens repeatedly,” Kim said.



By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)
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