The disclosure of a so-called "bribery list" left behind by an embattled businessman at the center of a snowballing corruption scandal before he committed suicide continued to put the government of President Park Geun-hye on edge Saturday.
Sung Wan-jong, head of Kyeangnam Enterprise Ltd., killed himself by hanging on Thursday, hours before he was to appear before a Seoul court set to decide whether to issue an arrest warrant for him on various corruption charges.
A brief memo found in his trouser pocket dropped a bombshell in South Korean politics. Listed in the memo are the names of eight heavyweight politicians, all close confidants of Park, and won figures next to them, indicating that the money was delivered.
The eight politicians include Park's two former chiefs of staff -- Huh Tae-yeol and Kim Ki-choon -- her current chief of staff, Lee Byung-kee, and Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo as well as Hong Moon-jong, a ruling party lawmaker who had served as the President's campaign manager in 2012.
According to the local daily Kyunghyang, Sung said in an interview with it on Thursday right before committing suicide that he gave some 200 million won ($182,000) in cash in to Hong and that he believes the money was used for Park's election campaign.
"I don't think he would have spent the money for himself. That was for the election," he told Kyunghyang. The daily belatedly made public part of the phone interview.
Asked if the money was properly handled in accordance with concerned accounting law, Sung said he "does not think so."
Sung also said he delivered 100 million won to Gov. Hong Joon-pyo of South Gyeongsang Province in 2011 through one of his close aides when Hong ran for the ruling party chief.
If found true, the two are subject to punishment for violating the political fund law as the statute of limitation in this case is seven years.
On Saturday, Hong flatly denied the allegation, saying that he would "quit politics if I took even a penny from him."
The governor also said he had no idea why he was named in Sung's handwritten memo.
Other people listed in the memo also dismiss the allegations.
Kim Moo-sung, the ruling party chief, said he cannot comment on the list at a time when there are only allegations, which have never been confirmed.
Sung, a construction tycoon and former lawmaker, was a major target of the ongoing investigation into the country's overseas resources development projects pushed by the former Lee Myung-bak government.
He is suspected of taking 80 billion won in government loans by exaggerating the amount of profit his company was expected to make on an investment in an oil exploration project in Russia. He allegedly used part of the funds to create a slush fund worth 25 billion won.
"We are checking if the memo was written by Sung himself and analyzing two cellphones he used," an investigator said. (Yonhap)