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Investigator did not write Ulsan report: Blue House

Spokesperson stressed presidential office did not investigate the case

Dec 05,2019
The investigator who died after apparently committing suicide on Sunday had nothing to do with compiling a report on the former Ulsan mayor, the Blue House stressed Wednesday, denying local media reports that he played a major role in the Blue House’s alleged meddling in the 2018 Ulsan mayoral election.

In a press briefing Wednesday explaining the results of an internal investigation ordered by the president’s chief of staff and carried out by the presidential senior secretary for civil affairs office, Blue House spokeswoman Ko Min-jung admitted that the secretary for civil affairs office, which falls under the senior secretary for civil affairs office, did write a report on the alleged corruptions of Ulsan’s former mayor in late 2017, but the investigator, who was working at the Blue House at the time, was not the person who made it. She also highlighted that the report contained nothing more than what a Blue House official heard from an acquaintance.

According to Ko, the Blue House official who was dispatched from a government agency that’s not the police, received a tip-off from an unnamed source, which included corruption allegations about former Ulsan Mayor Kim Gi-hyeon and his aides. The tip-off was said to have been sent through a smartphone communication app.

Upon receiving the tip-off in October 2017, said Ko, the Blue House official, who worked for the presidential secretary for civil affairs office but wasn’t a part of the office’s inspection bureau, “organized” the information into a report without adding any new information and passed it on to then-Presidential Secretary for Civil Affairs Baek Won-woo.

Baek, who left the Blue House in January, “said he can’t remember the report but testified that if it was related to a corruption suspicion, it must’ve been passed on to the anticorruption secretary’s office, which would have referred the case to the police.”

In this process, Ko underscored that the Blue House did not carry out any investigation into former Ulsan Mayor Kim, nor did it order the police to launch a probe.

Another Blue House official told reporters that the source who passed on the tip-off is also a public official.

The Blue House briefing came as local media has been flooded with news reports about the investigator from the Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors’ Office who died Sunday in an apparent suicide at an office building in Seocho District, southern Seoul. He was set to appear for questioning as a witness in the prosecution’s probe into the alleged election meddling later the same day.

Officers at the Seocho Police Precinct first got hold of the investigator’s iPhone, but prosecutors at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office raided the police precinct Monday to confiscate it for their probe into the Blue House’s alleged meddling in the 2018 Ulsan mayoral election.

Prosecutors, however, are currently said to be struggling to unlock the iPhone.

The Blue House has been facing allegations that it compiled a report falsely accusing the aides of Ulsan’s former mayor of corruption and passed the report to the police, pressuring officers to investigate them three months before the mayor, who was backed by the main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP), tried to run for a second term last year - and ultimately lost to the candidate backed by the ruling Democratic Party, Song Cheol-ho.

In March 2018, Ulsan police launched a probe into Kim’s younger sibling and Kim’s chief secretary on allegations they interfered in public construction deals. The police referred the cases to Ulsan prosecutors on May 11, just a month before the June 13 local elections. In March this year, Ulsan prosecutors cleared them of their charges.

Right after they were cleared, the LKP filed a complaint against Ulsan’s former police chief who supervised the investigation, and prosecutors have since been looking into the case. Last week, the case began to receive media attention after Ulsan prosecutors referred the case to Seoul prosecutors because most people involved were in Seoul.

BY LEE HOO-YEON, LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]


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