Prosecutors arrest aide to MB’s brother

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Prosecutors arrest aide to MB’s brother

Prosecutors yesterday arrested an aide to Grand National Party Representative Lee Sang-deuk, who is the elder brother of President Lee Myung-bak, on suspicions of receiving bribes from a local businessman.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday said that they detained the aide, surnamed Park, after SLS Group Chairman Lee Kuk-chul told them that he gave 100 million won ($88,417) to Park and a lobbyist.

The SLS chairman, according to prosecutors, met with Park and the lobbyist in January at a high-end restaurant in Cheongdam-dong, southern Seoul, where he gave them the money in return for Park’s help in rescuing his company, which was undergoing a debt workout program. He also allegedly gave Park a Cartier watch worth 5 million won.

Park, however, has denied the accusation. “I met Lee only once,” he told prosecutors during questioning. “I haven’t received any money from him and returned the watch.”

Prosecutors are also tracing the lobbyist’s bank records to determine whether he transferred an additional 500 million won to Park from the SLS chairman.

Park had been summoned by prosecutors several times but never responded, forcing prosecutors to arrest him at his home with an emergency warrant. Prosecutors will request an official warrant against Park soon.

In September, the 49-year-old chairman of SLS claimed that a slew of current government officials had received bribes from him in return for lobbying high-ranking officials to rescue his debt-stricken company, shaking the Lee Myung-bak administration. At a series of press meetings recently, the chairman told reporters that he “sponsored” a group of Lee aides for many years with cash, gift certificates and entertainment.

The chairman, in particular, accused Shin Jae-min, who served as the first vice minister of culture, sports and tourism between March 2008 and August 2010, of receiving 15 million won to 20 million won in cash every month from him. Shin is currently in prosecutors’ custody, and the chairman was indicted on charges of bribery.

Prosecutors will also summon Park Young-june, former vice minister of knowledge economy and another key aide to the president, for allegedly enjoying expensive evening entertainment at a Japanese bar in 2009, all of which was paid for by SLS Group. Park allegedly received the free entertainment alongside Kim Hyeong-joon, former head of the presidential press center, Chunchugwan.

By Park Jin-seok, Kim Hee-jin []
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