Prosecutor could have been bribed with Chanel

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Prosecutor could have been bribed with Chanel

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Prosecutors said yesterday that they have launched an investigation into allegations that a former prosecutor received a luxury sedan and a designer handbag from a private attorney in return for using her influence to sway a criminal investigation in the attorney’s favor.

The Busan District Prosecutors’ Office said it had secured text messages sent from the 36-year-old prosecutor’s cell phone that suggest she may have pressed a fellow prosecutor to rule on the side of the Busan-based lawyer in an investigation pending at a local police station.

The prosecutor, whose name was withheld, resigned from her office in a city near Seoul earlier this month after the corruption scandal erupted. She was previously based in Busan.

The prosecutor allegedly received a Mercedes-Benz sedan from the 49-year-old prosecutor-turned-lawyer along with a Chanel handbag worth 5.4 million won ($4,677) late last year, according to Busan prosecutors.

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In return, she purportedly asked her fellow prosecutor in Changwon, South Gyeongsang, to consider the criminal suit in the lawyer’s favor. The lawyer last year sued two former partners involved in a construction project in China.

Busan prosecutors said they may seek bribery charges against the prosecutor if she is found to have peddled her influence.

They added that in the text messages they seized, the prosecutor told the lawyer that she had completed his request and repeatedly demanded cash to cover her purchase of the designer bag. On Dec. 5, 5.39 million won, the cost of the designer bag purchase, was paid by the lawyer’s company credit card.

“Judging from several circumstances, the two seemed to have maintained inappropriate relations for a long time. If the lawyer gave the prosecutor a Mercedes-Benz sedan and other goods for her influence peddling in a criminal case, we can apply a bribery charge against the prosecutor,” said Moon Mu-il, a senior prosecutor in the Busan office.

A 39-year-old college instructor who has been dating the Busan lawyer filed the complaint over the alleged corruption with the prosecution. The female instructor submitted text messages to the prosecutors and pressed her boyfriend to end his relationship with the female prosecutor.

“I did not have inappropriate relations with the prosecutor. I did not ask her to peddle her influence in my favor,” said the lawyer in a telephone interview with the JoongAng Ilbo.

Prosecutors in Busan have so far been unable to reach the former prosecutor.


By Kwon Sang-soo, Yonhap [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]
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