Arrest warrant requested for Rep. Park
Prosecutors requested an arrest warrant for Rep. Park Jie-won, floor leader of the main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP), Monday, over bribery suspicions.
If granted by a court, they will submit a motion to the National Assembly as early as today to progress with Park’s arrest.
The DUP issued a statement to protest the move, indicating that it will boycott a vote on whether to accept the arrest motion.
The ruling Saenuri Party, which has 149 seats in the 300-member legislature, vowed to table the arrest motion at a plenary session Wednesday, so voting may take place as early as Thursday. Park will be taken into custody for questioning if a majority of lawmakers vote for the motion.
The three-term lawmaker, who was a key aide to the late former President Kim Dae-jung, is suspected of receiving about 100 million won ($88,000) in bribes from Solomon Savings Bank Chairman Lim Suk just ahead of the general elections in 2008.
Prosecutors also claimed that he received 30 million won in illegal political funds from Bohae Mutual Savings Bank Chairman Oh Moon-chol and also an executive of its affiliated firm, Bohae Brewery, between 2010 and 2011.
Solomon and Bohae are among several lenders that allegedly sought influence from politicians to avoid audits, but were later suspended by financial regulators for having a capital shortage.
Prosecutors said they decided to seek the arrest motion for Park because he had rejected summons for questioning three times. Park has claimed that the probe was politically motivated.
His liberal party has also sharpened its criticism of the prosecution, alleging that the Saenuri Party’s leading presidential hopeful Rep. Park Geun-hye is behind the ongoing investigation into Park.
“We believe that Saenuri and the prosecution have conspired to deal a blow to the DUP ahead of the presidential election in December,” the party said in a statement.
On the other hand, the ruling party urged Park to turn himself in to the prosecution before the motion is put to a vote.
“He is just trying to make an excuse to avoid the investigation. He should realize that such an irresponsible act could deepen the people’s distrust in politics,” Saenuri Party Chairman Hwang Woo-yea said.
The ruling party itself is being criticized for adopting a “double standard” in dealing with corruption cases involving lawmakers. It came under heavy fire in early July after the National Assembly voted down an arrest motion for Saenuri Party lawmaker Chung Doo-un, who’s also facing bribery allegations.
Rep. Chung is among many former and incumbent presidential aides who are implicated in the corruption scandal involving troubled lenders. They include President Lee Myung-bak’s elder brother, Lee Sang-deuk, who has been indicted on suspicions of taking bribes from savings banks and businesses. President Lee apologized to the public last week for the numerous bribery cases involving his brother and aides.
The DUP has claimed that some senior “political” prosecutors affiliated with the Saenuri Party have launched investigations into opposition lawmakers to divert public criticism ahead of the presidential vote.