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Ex-President Lee’s brother summoned over graft scandal

The elder brother of former President Lee Myung-bak was summoned for questioning Monday over influence-peddling and bribery allegations involving POSCO, the country’s largest steelmaker.

Lee Sang-deuk, a former six-term lawmaker, appeared at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office at around 10:20 a.m., two years after he completed a 14-month jail term on charges of receiving kickbacks from local savings banks.

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

This time, the former ruling Saenuri party member is accused of pressuring a senior official at POSCO to offer business deals to one of its subcontractors, TM Tech, of which one of his close aides is a major shareholder.

TM Tech, established in late 2008, reported 17 billion won ($1,450) in yearly sales on average, mostly through these deals with POSCO. A large portion of the dividends Park received from TM Tech, worth 2 billion won, is thought to have been used to fund Lee’s political campaign.

In return, the 79-year-old former lawmaker allegedly exerted influence to help POSCO resume its construction of a new steel factory in 2011, which had been suspended in 2009 due to planning restrictions.

The prosecution also suspects Lee of peddling influence in appointing Chung Joon-yang as former chairman of POSCO in 2009.

Lee, however, has flatly denied all the accusations.

“I don’t know why I am even here. I cannot answer your questions,” Lee told the press before entering the prosecutors’ office on Monday morning.

The prosecution considers seeking an arrest warrant to detain him on charges of taking bribes if the allegations were confirmed.

The summons is the latest in a string of probes into POSCO and its subcontractors and subsidiaries over suspicious deals and creation of slush funds between 2009 and 2014.

Investigators have focused on investigating whether the steelmaker was granted favors during the previous Lee administration as part of his drive for “energy diplomacy.” 

By Ock Hyun-ju (laeticia.ock@heraldcorp.com)
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