Warnings label on cigarette packs to get bigger
By Kim Rahn
The prosecution has raided the home and office of a Pohang-based businessman in an investigation into the money-for-influence scandal surrounding a Picity development project in southern Seoul.
Prosecutors suspect the businessman may have laundered kickbacks which former Knowledge Economy Vice Minister Park Young-june received from Picity in return for influence-peddling.
They plan to summon Park tomorrow for questioning as a suspect.
Investigators from the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office said Monday they raided the properties belonging to Lee Dong-jo, chairman of POSCO subcontractor JE&Tech, on Saturday after securing evidence of suspicious financial transactions between him and Park.
While looking into bank accounts of Park and other figures involved, prosecutors said they found Picity gave Park about 20 million won in checks. The money was then transferred to Lee.
Suspicions are that the businessman managed and laundered the bribes. Park is suspected of having received hundreds of millions of won from Picity in return for helping the real estate developer change a cargo terminal development project into a large-sized logistics complex to include shopping facilities.
The 20 million won is separate from some 2 billion won which the former Picity head allegedly spent for lobbying policymakers through a broker.
The prosecution plans to summon Lee, who is currently in China, as a witness.
It is said that since 2000, Lee influential in Pohang, was close to Park, a former aide to Rep. Lee Sang-deuk who won a ruling party’s National Assembly seat in the region. Rep. Lee is the elder brother of President Lee Myung-bak.
Another figure, Seoul City’s former political affairs chief Kang Cheol-won, returned home from China Monday for questioning. He earlier told a local daily that Park called him in 2007 and asked him for an update on the city’s approval process for the development project.
Prosecutors are also examining related documents and records of meetings of Seoul City’s urban development committee between 2005 and 2008, the period during which the broker allegedly lobbied city officials and politicians.
They have also summoned two former city officials in charge of project approval at that time, questioning them over the approval process and Park’s role in it. Park worked at the city government under then-Mayor Lee Myung-bak from 2005 to 2006.
In the meantime, a local court reviewed whether to issue an arrest warrant for Choi See-joong, former Korea Communications Commission chairman, for allegedly taking 800 million won from Picity in exchange for peddling influence.
In front of the court in southern Seoul when reporters asked him what he had spent the money on, Choi answered, “I have no excuse.”
He earlier admitted to receiving the money, but claimed it was roughly 200 million won and that it was not in return for influence peddling.