Roh’s daughter indicted for apartment deal
Prosecutors have indicted the daughter of the late President Roh Moo-hyun without detention on charges of converting a huge sum of money into U.S. dollars through illegal means to buy an apartment in New Jersey in 2009.
The former first family claimed their acquaintances raised the money for them. The prosecution decided to wrap up the investigation without finding the ultimate source of the money — given to the daughter by her mother — which the ruling party and conservative civic groups claim was linked a slush fund created by the former President who committed suicide in May 2009.
Investigators at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office said Wednesday that Roh’s daughter, Jeong-yeon, had 1.3 billion won ($1 million at that time) converted into dollars through middlemen and transferred it to a Korean-American lawyer who was selling a New Jersey apartment in a building called the “Hudson Club.”
They concluded the money was the last installment for the sale of the luxury apartment, charging Jeong-yeon with violating the Foreign Exchange Law.
The lawyer, Gyeong Yeon-hee, 43, was subject to a summary indictment by prosecutors on the same charge, because both parties of the deal are subject to punishment in an illegal foreign exchange case. They are seeking a 1.5 million won fine for Gyeong.
Prosecutors didn’t bring charges against former first lady Kwon Yang-sook, who gave the 1.3 billion won to her daughter.
Kwon testified in a written questioning that the 1.3 billion won was money she had received from her acquaintances who had visited Cheong Wa Dae during Roh’s term or their retirement residence in Bongha Village, South Gyeongsang Province, afterwards.
“We couldn’t trace the money flow to confirm who gave her money, as the money was all in cash and Kwon refused to disclose their names, citing her relationship with them,” a prosecutor said.
The prosecution, which initially closed the investigation after Roh’s death in May 2009, reopened it in January at the request of a conservative civic group.
Before the request, the middlemen — two brothers, both identified as Lee and working at a casino in Connecticut — claimed they had received seven boxes containing 1.3 billion won in cash from an unidentified man wearing sunglasses and a mask in Gwacheon, south of Seoul, in January 2009.
They said they delivered the boxes to another broker, an imported car dealer surnamed Eun, who then converted the money into dollars through illegal means and sent it to Gyeong.
In February, prosecutors questioned the Lee brothers, Eun and former Taekwang Chairman Park Yeon-cha who was suspected of having provided funds to the first family. Park denied it.
Gyeong came to Seoul in May to face questioning, and testified she received $1 million from Jeong-yeon as an installment for the apartment purchase.
Prosecutors then quizzed Jeong-yeon and Kwon by letter in June. The daughter was also summoned last week. Both of them said Kwon provided the money but didn’t disclose its source.
Opposition parties and liberal groups claimed the investigation was politically motivated to deal a blow to Roh’s former aides ahead of the presidential election in December.