Ex-PM summoned in 900M won bribe probe

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Ex-PM summoned in 900M won bribe probe

Prosecutors asked former Prime Minister Han Myeong-sook to appear for questioning this morning on allegations that she pocketed 900 million won ($757,000) from a former construction company owner in 2007.

According to Han’s aides, however, there’s slim chance the meeting will take place because Han refuses to cooperate. Prosecutors said that they are considering seeking an indictment without questioning Han.

Prosecutors at Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office have obtained testimony from Han Man-ho - former head of the bankrupt firm Hansin Gunyoung - his driver and his accounting clerk saying that the former prime minister received a total of 900 million won in cash, checks and U.S. dollars in March, April and August 2007 for aid in winning state-funded construction projects.

Han told prosecutors that he placed a carry-on bag containing cash in the trunk of Han Myeong-sook’s car in a parking lot in Ilsan, Gyeonggi. Prosecutors asked the businessman to re-enact the delivery and filmed the scene.

Han Man-ho is in jail for embezzlement and other charges since his company went bankrupt.

On allegations that the former prime minister returned 200 million won to the construction company owner, prosecutors questioned one of her aides, surnamed Kim, who reportedly explained to investigators that Han Myeong-sook received 300 million won as a donation for the Democratic Party’s presidential primary in 2007, but she returned 200 million won and kept the rest.

Prosecutors believe Kim returned 200 million won wrapped in black vinyl bags to Han Man-ho’s staff.

Democratic Party spokesman Woo Sang-ho demanded that prosecutors halt what he called a “politically-motivated investigation.”

“We’re outraged at the prosecution as they are still trying to oppress a political opponent despite the public sentiment shown in the June 2 local elections,” Woo said.

By Lee Chul-jae, Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]
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