Prosecutors raid 11 sitting legislators
Prosecutors yesterday raided offices of 11 lawmakers who allegedly received money from a security guards association in return for supporting legislation that boosted their pay and delayed their retirements.
Investigators at the Seoul Northern District Prosecutors’ Office raided the offices of 11 ruling and opposition party legislators who have been implicated in the case, confiscating accounts and other materials.
The 11 include opposition Democratic Party Representative Choe Kyoo-sik and ruling Grand National Party Representative Lee In-ki, who played major roles in pushing the legislation.
Choe jointly sponsored the bill with Liberty Forward Party Representative Lee Myoung-soo and DP Representative Kang Ki-jung, who recently made a graft accusation against the first lady, Kim Yoon-ok.
The bill called for revisions to the law governing security guards, extending their retirement age to 60 from 59 and raising their monthly salaries. The bill was passed last December and went into effect in July.
Of the11 lawmakers raided, five belongs to the DP, five to the GNP and one to the Liberty Forward Party.
Prosecutors believe Choe of the DP received 50 million won ($45,146) in donations from the association, the largest amount of all the legislators.
According to prosecutors, the association donated a total of 270 million won under the names of over 1,000 security guards or their families to 33 lawmakers in order to win their support for the legislation.
Prosecutors last Thursday arrested three senior members of the association. The prosecution’s raid came as a shock to politicians, as prosecutors have rarely raided the offices of so many lawmakers.
DP leaders yesterday criticized the raid as “political suppression.”
“DP lawmakers at least received the donations from the association in their bank accounts registered with the National Election Commission, and they also have receipts,” said Park Jie-won, the DP floor leader. “I can’t help but say the merciless raid of 11 lawmakers is a dirty action that tries to permanently isolate politicians from the people.”
The Grand National Party refrained from comment on the situation. “This is something that has never happened before, and we’re carefully watching the development of the investigation,” said GNP spokeswoman Chung Ok-nim.
By Kim Mi-ju [firstname.lastname@example.org]