President’s former aide queried
Rep. Chung faces allegations of taking bribes to fund 2007 presidential campaign
By Na Jeong-ju
Chung Doo-un, a three-term lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party, was questioned over bribery allegations Thursday with attention being focused on whether the prosecutors’ move will open a Pandora’s box on illegal campaign funds raised during the 2007 presidential race.
Chung, who worked as a key campaigner for President Lee Myung-bak, is suspected of having collected funds from businessmen to finance the campaign, along with Lee’s elder brother and former National Assembly vice speaker, Lee Sang-deuk.
The lawmaker is known to have introduced Lim Suk, chairman of Solomon Savings Bank, to the elder Lee after his younger brother declared a presidential bid in the summer of 2007. The elder Lee was quizzed Tuesday over allegations that he received hundreds of millions of won in bribes from Lim from 2007 to 2010. Prosecutors suspect that Chung himself also took money from the chairman just ahead of the 2007 election.
“I will tell investigators everything I know,” Chung told reporters as he entered the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office in southern Seoul. He refused to answer a reporter’s question about whether the money from Solomon was connected with the presidential campaign.
According to the prosecution, Chung met with Lim together with Lee Sang-deuk before the election and saw the chairman giving money to the latter.
The revelation suggests that the money was part of campaign funds, which were reportedly managed by the elder Lee, a former six-term lawmaker. The prosecution plans to request a court warrant as early as this week to detain him for further questioning.
The main opposition Democratic United Party (DUP) called for a thorough investigation into Lee’s campaign funds, but it too is far from being a clean party. Rep. Park Jie-won, the DUP floor leader, is facing a summons over allegations that he also received illegal funds from Solomon.
Chung was the top advisor on political affairs to President Lee while the latter served as Seoul mayor. He also had good relationship with the elder Lee, but they became estranged after Chung openly criticized him and his aides in 2008 for wielding influence behind the scenes in selecting people for government posts as well as ruling party candidates for major elections.
Prosecutors said they are checking whether the elder Lee and Chung received illegal political funds from other firms during the presidential race.
One of the elder Lee’s close aides, Park Bae-su, was indicted early this year for taking 700 million won from SLS Group Chairman Lee Kuk-chul. Park was also found to have taken 150 million won from Jeil Savings Bank Chairman Yoo Dong-chun. Yoo told investigators earlier that he offered bribes to the elder Lee to seek his influence for his business.
The prosecution also found another 700 million won early this year in a bank account that “belonged” to another aide.