DP lawmaker caught in Busan Savings scandal

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DP lawmaker caught in Busan Savings scandal

Prosecutors investigating the web of corruption surrounding the Busan Savings Bank group are looking into whether former Democratic Party lawmaker Suh Gab-won took bribes from the bank’s vice chairman Kim Yang.

Suh denied the accusation.

According to multiple sources, Kim confessed to prosecutors during questioning that he gave a shopping bag filled with 30 million won ($ 27,713) in cash to the two-term lawmaker in October 2008. Kim told prosecutors that he met Suh in front of a vacation home owned by Haedong Construction Chairman Park Hyeong-seon in Suncheon, South Jeolla.

Prosecutors suspect Kim gave the 30 million won to Suh in return for business favors. Kim’s bank invested a total of 55 billion won for apartment construction in Wangji-dong, Suncheon since 2003. Suncheon was Suh’s constituency, and the bank needed approvals for construction in the city.

The group was closed on Feb. 17 because it was insolvent. Major shareholders and executives of the bank have been indicted on charges of using its funds as their own piggy banks, cooking its books and giving bribes to former financial regulators to lobby government officials to prevent its suspension. Prosecutors are currently tracing cell phone records of the two men because they believe it’s likely that Suh and Kim talked over the phone before they met. The prosecution plans to summon Suh as soon as they finish questioning Kim.

Suh, however, flatly denied allegations. “I didn’t take money from Kim,” Suh told the JoongAng Ilbo on Monday. Suh was a two-term lawmaker and a loyalist for the late former president Roh Moo-hyun. Suh lost his Assembly seat in January after a local court fined him 12 million won for taking illegal political donations.

Prosecutors said this is the first time that one of indicted executives spoke about allegations surrounding Haedong Construction Chairman Park Hyeong-seon.

Prosecutors are noting that Busan Savings Bank group become the nation’s largest savings bank after Park became its second largest shareholder in 2003. They suspect Park lobbied influential government officials and politicians in the Roh administration to expand the bank.

Some sources say it’s only a matter of time that other politicians in the Roh administration could be embroiled in the scandal.

According to political observers, Park is credited for helping Roh win the presidential nomination in 2002.

By Park Jin-seok, Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]

“3000만원 쇼핑백 서갑원에게 줬다”

김양 “2008년 박형선 회장 별장 앞에서 전달”

검찰이 “서갑원(사진) 전 민주당 의원에게 3000만원을 줬다”는 부산저축은행 핵심 관계자의 진술을 확보하고 확인 작업을 벌이고 있다. 부산저축은행 수사 과정에서 처음으로 정치인에 대한 금품 제공 진술이 나온 것이어서 주목된다.

13일 검찰과 사정당국 등에 따르면 대검 중수부는 최근 김양(58·구속기소) 부산저축은행 부회장에게서 “2008년 10월 전남 순천시에서 서 전 의원에게 3000만원을 줬다”는 진술을 받았다. 김 부회장은 “당시 순천시에 있는 박형선(59·구속) 해동건설 회장의 별장 앞에서 서 전 의원을 만났고 현금이 든 쇼핑백을 전달했다”고 말한 것으로 알려졌다.

검찰은 부산저축은행이 2003년부터 순천시 왕지동에서 아파트 사업을 추진하면서 550억원 이상을 투자했다는 점에서 문제의 돈이 사업 인허가 등에 대한 대가일 가능성이 있다고 보고 있다. 검찰은 조만간 서 전 의원을 소환해 조사할 방침이다. 이에 대해 서 전 의원은 “김 부회장으로부터 돈을 받은 사실이 없다”며 “(검찰에) 나를 그만 좀 괴롭히라고 전해달라”고 말했다. 17, 18대 의원으로 참여정부의 386 핵심 정치인인 서 전 의원은 박연차 전 태광실업 회장으로부터 불법 정치자금을 받은 혐의로 기소돼 1200만원의 벌금형이 확정됨에 따라 지난 1월 의원직을 잃었다.

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