DP targets Lee aides over bank probe

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DP targets Lee aides over bank probe

Pressure on the Lee Myung-bak administration increased significantly yesterday as the main opposition party targeted key Lee aides, including the prime minister, to lay bare their involvement in the massive corruption scandal of troubled savings banks.

Following the arrest of Eun Jin-su, a former commissioner at the Board of Audit and Inspection and a key Lee ally, over his alleged abuse of power to influence the watchdog’s probe into the Busan Savings Bank Group, the Democrats demanded that more top officials be investigated and that President Lee apologize for his aides’ alleged corruption.

“President Lee must apologize for this comprehensive corruption package involving key members of the administration,” said Kim Jin-pyo, Democratic Party floor leader. “A National Assembly investigation must take place as soon as possible in order to lay bare this dark symbiotic relationship involving the Blue House.”

The ruling Grand National and opposition Democratic parties agreed yesterday that a National Assembly investigation will take place in June.

While calling Eun just the tip of the iceberg, the Democrats pressured Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, who used to be head of the Board of Audit and Inspection, to speak in detail about what had happened when the watchdog, under his leadership, carried out probes into the savings banks.

Chung Jin-suk, senior presidential secretary for political affairs, and Kwon Jae-jin, senior presidential secretary for civil affairs, were also named as the targets of the banks’ lobbying activities.

The DP also created an in-house investigation committee yesterday and named former floor leader Park Jie-won as its head.

Massive corruption scandals involving Busan Savings Bank and Samhwa Mutual Savings Bank have been investigated by prosecutors. Busan Savings Bank executives have been indicted for financial crimes involving nearly 7.7 trillion won ($7 billion), and Samhwa Mutual Savings Bank executives were prosecuted on charges of making 200 billion won in illegal loans.

The prosecutors are now checking into allegations that the banks had lobbied top government officials and politicians to stop their businesses from being forcibly shut down. The two banks’ operations were suspended earlier this year, but suspicions grew that the decision to shut them down was deliberately slowed down.

DP lawmakers on the National Assembly’s legislative and judiciary committee issued a statement yesterday and pressured Prime Minister Kim to elaborate on his earlier remarks.

“Before the Assembly [in February], Kim testified that he had received pressure from everywhere while investigating problems involving savings banks when he was head of the Board of Audit and Inspection,” the statement said. “The time has come for Kim to say where the pressures came from. He should also make public how the pressure influenced the audit.”

The DP’s spokesman, Lee Yong-sup, also pressured Kim.

“The prime minister was the head of the audit board, and he is the second-highest ranking public servant after the president,” Lee said. “It may be a burden for him, but he must lay bare the truth to end the crisis and lessen people’s sufferings.”

After 14 hours of interrogation, the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office made an emergency arrest of Eun early yesterday on charges of receiving bribes from the now-suspended Busan Savings Bank. The prosecutors yesterday applied for a warrant to detain Eun for further questioning.

Lee also said allegations have grown that Park Jong-rok, a Busan Savings Bank legal adviser, had asked Kwon, senior Blue House civil affairs secretary, to protect the bank from shutting down. Park and Kwon both passed the bar exam in 1978.

Prosecutors confirmed that Park, a 59-year-old lawyer and former prosecutor, had contacted Yun Yeo-seong, a key lobbyist for the bank, and telephoned Kwon.

“I received a phone call, but I flatly turned him down,” Kwon said. “How can it be a problem when the civil affairs office actually ordered the probe to proceed under the proper protocol, rather than having intervened in it?”

The DP lawmakers also told reporters that financial authorities were suspected of having forced Busan Savings Bank to take over Samhwa, fueling its financial troubles. They demanded to know what role Chung played in this accusation, claiming that the presidential aide had an inappropriate connection with Shin Sam-gil, Samhwa honorary chairman.

Chung worked as one of the Samhwa’s outside directors and an audit board member for four years from 2004 to 2008. The bank’s operations were suspended in January, and Woori Financial Group took over the ailing Samhwa in March. The Blue House yesterday firmly denied allegations that presidential aides were lobbied to protect the troubled banks.

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [연합]

돌아온 박지원…저축銀 의혹 공세 전면에

‘朴남매’ 채널 재가동…‘정진석ㆍ신삼길 근거자료 있다’

민주당 박지원 전 원내대표가 30일 원내 사령탑에서 물러난 지 보름여만에 당내 `저축은행 진상조사` TF(태스크포스) 위원장으로 전면에 복귀했다.

저축은행 사태를 `권력형 측근비리 게이트`로 규정, 법사위에서 `찰떡 공조`를 이어오며 `박(朴)남매`로 불렸던 박영선 정책위의장과 정보 채널을 재가동하며 몸통을 밝혀내겠다고 벼르고 있다.

여기에 정무위에서 저축은행 `저격수`로 활약해온 박선숙 의원까지 `박남매` 3인방이 이번 사태 규명을 위해 긴급 투입된 모양새다.

박 전 원내대표는 이날 열린 TF 첫 회의에서 자신을 "2주만에 `돌아온 장고`"라고 소개한 뒤 "어제도 제가 관계자들을 만났는데, 삼화저축은행 사외이사를 지낸 정진석 청와대 정무수석이 (구속기소된) 신삼길 삼화저축은행 명예회장과 밀접한 관계에 있다"면서 원내대표 재임 시절부터 날을 세워온 정 수석을 정조준했다.

그러면서 "(정 수석이) 이를 부인한다면 구체적으로 자료를 제시할 것"이라고 압박했다.

그는 또 "부산과 목포 보해저축은행의 브로커로, 현재 도피 중인 이모씨가 여러 가명을 쓰며 내연 관계에 있는 이들과 숨어 지내왔는데, 이씨가 충청도 모 사찰에 있다고 해서 사람을 한번 보내봤다"며 "신 명예회장과 이씨를 고리로 은진수 전 감사위원과 김황식 국무총리 등에게 어떤 로비가 이뤄졌는지만 밝혀지면 (의혹이) 다 풀리게 돼 있다"고 주장했다.

민주당은 부산저축은행 로비 의혹에 연루돼 긴급체포된 은 전 감사위원과 감사원장 시절 저축은행 감사에 대해 "오만군데에서 압력이 들어왔다"고 밝혔던 김 총리, 정 수석을 의혹규명의 열쇠를 쥔 3인방으로 지목, `성역없는 수사`를 촉구하며 조속한 시일내에 국정조사를 관철한다는 방침이다.

박 전 원내대표는 "은 전 감사위원의 임명 당시 법사위에서 중치적 중립성 문제를 신랄하게 추궁하자 당시 감사원장이던 김 총리는 사석에서 `은 전 감사위원을 다른 곳으로 보내기로 했다`고 했다가 발을 뺐다"며 "3인방에 대한 철저한 수사와 함께 이명박 대통령의 대국민 사과를 촉구한다"고 공세를 폈다.

박 정책위의장은 "BBK `보은인사`의 대표사례인 김홍일 대검 중수부장이 이번 수사를 진두지휘하고 있는데, 결과를 주시하겠다"고 했고, 박선숙 의원도 "대통령과 청와대는 저축은행 감사를 왜 6개월이나 끌었는지 답해야 한다"고 주장했다.

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