Coffee, tea or $180K? Bribery attempt alleged

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Coffee, tea or $180K? Bribery attempt alleged

YEOJU, Gyeonggi - The Yeoju County Office head was reportedly caught red-handed yesterday trying to bribe his way onto the ruling party ticket in the June general election.

According to Bundang police and Grand National Party lawmaker Rhee Beum-kwan, Lee Gi-su met Rhee at a coffee shop in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul, at 8 a.m. While the two men chatted about the election inside the shop, outside Lee’s secretary allegedly handed Rhee’s secretary a sealed shopping bag filled with what he said were souvenirs.

When Rhee left the shop at 8:30 a.m., his secretary told him about the shopping bag and he became suspicious. He ordered his secretary to chase Lee’s car and asked another aide to call the police immediately.

Rhee’s car followed Lee’s to the Seoul tollgate at the Gyeongbu Expressway in Bundang, Gyeonggi, where police arrived at the scene. At that point, Rhee’s aide opened the shopping bag, and the group reportedly found 200 million won ($180,000) in 50,000 won notes stuffed inside.

“We suspected there was money inside, but Rhee ordered us to open the shopping bag while police were present because otherwise there could have been a misunderstanding,” the aide said.

Lee reportedly wanted to run for re-election to the county seat on the GNP ticket on June 2, and faced three rivals for the party’s backing. The party’s Gyeonggi Office held a meeting after his arrest and stripped away his chances.

Lee, a previous deputy mayor of the Goyang city government in Gyeonggi, was elected as the head of the Yeoju County Office in 2006.

The GNP’s Gyeonggi Office will vote for the party’s candidate for the Yeoju county head on Sunday.

By Jeon Ick-jin, Kim Mi-ju []
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