Bank may have spent $9.2M on gov’t lobbying

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Bank may have spent $9.2M on gov’t lobbying

Suspicions continued to grow that the Busan Savings Bank Group used a 10 billion won ($9.2 million) slush fund to bribe politicians and top government officials, prosecution sources said yesterday, adding that their probe is trying to follow the money flow.

The group used the slush fund to pay lobbyists to help it from being shut down earlier this year, according to the central investigation unit of the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office, which is investigating a massive web of corruption with the group at its center.

The prosecutors believe that the group’s vice chairman, Kim Yang, coordinated the operation and the use of the slush fund. Kim is suspected of giving directions on how to use the money and how the lobbying activities should proceed.

Among the lobbyists suspected of receiving money is Yun Yeo-seong, a 56-year-old former businessman in the construction industry. Yun worked as the “cleaner” of the bank’s troubles by exploiting his contacts in legal, political and government circles, prosecution sources said. He is reportedly a former schoolmate of Busan Savings Bank Chairman Park and Vice Chairman Kim, who went to Gwangju Jeil High School.

Park and Kim, along with other executives of the bank, were indicted on May 2 for financial crimes involving nearly 7.7 trillion won and Yun was arrested May 17. He is currently in the prosecution’s custody for interrogation.

Kim is insisting that he has no specific knowledge about whom the lobbyists may have bribed, and the prosecutors are questioning Yun about that.

Eun Jin-su, a commissioner at the Board of Audit and Inspection and a key ally of President Lee Myung-bak, has been accused of receiving bribes from Yun, and the prosecutors are trying to find other recipients.

According to prosecution sources, Yun has testified in detail about Eun’s alleged corruption. Eun allegedly received plentiful bribes, including a teardrop-shaped diamond, to use his influence so the audit board would go easy on the group, Yun was quoted as saying by the sources. No specifics on the amounts of the bribes allegedly given to Eun, including the size and worth of the so-called teardrop diamond, were made available.

The prosecution also obtained testimony from Yun that Eun’s elder brother was given a job at a hotel casino on Jeju Island at the behest of the Busan Savings Bank group. The elder brother reportedly received about a 10 million won monthly salary for about 10 months.

Eun was also accused of withdrawing his mother’s money from the bank in January 2010, when the Board of Audit and Inspection began investigating the troubled group.

Prosecutors are also looking into the possibility that Eun leaked information about the board’s audit of the bank, which took place from January to April 2010. The audit report was made public early this year and the prosecution is investigating whether Eun abused his power to delay the announcement. Sources also said Eun, who worked as a legal counsel for the Busan Savings Bank Group for two years from 2005, broke the law by participating in the 2010 inspection of the savings bank. The Board of Audit and Inspection is a constitutional agency that is supposed to have full independence from the government. It calls itself “the watchdog of the national purse.”

Yesterday, the ruling Grand National Party joined the opposition Democratic Party in demanding a National Assembly investigation into the corruption scandal. A group of 35 GNP lawmakers said the assembly should investigate the case during its June session. “The Board of Audit and Inspection should be the most trusted and respected investigative authority,” said the party’s new floor leader, Hwang Woo-yea. “The prosecution must thoroughly investigate the unprecedented corruption accusations against its commissioner so that the people’s trust in the Board of Audit and Inspection will be restored.” At a party leadership meeting, DP Chairman Sohn Hak-kyu also condemned “the moral incompetence of the Lee administration.”

“The entire nation is enraged about Eun,” said Sohn. “We had opposed the appointment of a close ally of the president as a commissioner of the Board of Audit and Inspection and now the outcome is catastrophic.” The DP’s floor leader, Kim Jin-pyo, also demanded an assembly investigation. “Lee appointed a politician as an audit commissioner, handing over a fish to a cat,” Kim said.

If the lawmakers start a probe, it will be the second time that the highest audit authority submits itself to such an investigation.

The Board of Audit and Inspection yesterday called an emergency meeting of its 90 senior officials. The board, however, said the accusations against Eun were his personal matters. It also said the case showed that attempts to influence the audit on savings banks failed.


By Ser Myo-ja, Choe Sun-uk [myoja@joongang.co.kr]


한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

“김양, 정·관계 로비에 100억 썼다”

“SPC 대표들에게 작년 말 수억 ~ 10억 거둬…윤여성씨 등 로비 담당자에게 직접 나눠 줘”

부산저축은행그룹 불법 대출 및 인출 비리를 수사 중인 대검 중수부는 부산저축은행 측이 100억원가량의 자금을 조성해 정·관계 로비에 사용한 것으로 보고 돈의 흐름을 추적하고 있다.

검찰에 따르면 부산저축은행 관계자들은 최근 “은행 퇴출을 저지하기 위해 김양(58·구속기소) 부회장이 지난해 11~12월 특수목적법인(SPC) 대표들에게 많게는 10억원, 적게는 수억원씩 자금을 보내라고 지시했다”고 진술했다. 이렇게 모인 돈이 100억원에 달한다는 것이다.

은행 관계자들은 “김 부회장이 이 돈을 윤여성(56·구속)씨 등 복수의 로비 담당자들에게 나눠줬다”고 말한 것으로 전해졌다. 그러나 김 부회장은 “구체적으로 누구를 대상으로 로비를 벌였는지는 알지 못한다”는 입장을 고수하고 있는 것으로 알려졌다. 이에 따라 검찰은 윤씨 등을 상대로 은진수(50) 전 감사원 감사위원 외에 로비 대상자가 누구인지를 추궁하고 있다.

검찰은 또 은 전 위원이 2005년부터 2년간 부산저축은행 고문변호사를 맡은 경력이 있음에도 2010년 저축은행 감사 심의에 참여한 정황을 포착한 것으로 알려졌다. 검찰은 은 전 위원의 심의 참여가 ‘감사위원은 자기와 관계 있는 사항에 대해서는 심의에 참여할 수 없다’고 규정한 감사원법 15조를 어긴 것인지를 검토 중이다. 검찰은 은 전 위원을 출국금지한 데 이어 이르면 29일 소환 조사할 계획이다.

검찰은 전날 압수수색한 인천 계양구의 효성지구 도시개발사업 특수목적법인(SPC) 사무실에서 확보한 자료들을 분석하고 있다. 특히 효성지구 SPC 측이 사업 진행을 위해 돈 봉투를 돌리는 등 지방자치단체를 상대로 금품 로비를 했다는 의혹을 확인하기 위해 SPC 관계자들을 소환조사할 계획이다.

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