Target narrows in GNP bribery case

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Target narrows in GNP bribery case

Prosecutors are one step closer to identifying a man who allegedly delivered an envelope stuffed with cash to a Grand National Party lawmaker’s office on the eve of the 2008 party chairmanship election to buy his vote, sources close to the investigation said yesterday.

Representative Koh Seung-duk made a bombshell revelation in a press conference on Monday that National Assembly Speaker Park Hee-tae had made an attempt to buy his vote during the 2008 GNP leadership election.

Koh said a manila envelope stuffed with 3 million won ($2,592) and Park’s name card, at the time a chairmanship contender, was delivered to his office by a man on the eve of the election in July 2008, adding that he returned it the day after the election.

Koh and his two aides were questioned by the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office earlier this week about the accusation. Based on their testimonies the prosecutors said Koh’s aide returned the envelope stuffed with money to Park’s aide, Goh Myeong-jin.

However, it remains to be seen if Goh was the one who delivered the money to Koh’s office before the election.

Goh, 40, served as Park’s secretary in 2004 when Park was elected to his fifth term as GNP lawmaker. After Park failed to win the GNP nomination in 2008, Goh found another job at a different lawmaker’s office, but still supported Park’s campaign during the July 2009 chairmanship election.

He was a key member of Park’s secretariat during the campaign, according to GNP officials.

The prosecution sources said Koh’s female secretary, who received the envelope on the eve of the July 3, 2008 election, was shown photos of Park’s aides at the time of the campaign to try to identify him.

She narrowed down the suspected deliveryman to about four people, and Goh was one of them.

The lawmaker earlier quoted his secretary as describing the messenger as a man in his 30s who wore black-framed glasses.

Koh’s other aide, who was ordered by the lawmaker to return the money, also told prosecutors that he handed over the envelope to Goh on July 4, 2008, the day after the election which Park won.

Koh’s aide recalled that Goh had handed him a business card, which gave his title as a secretary to GNP Chairman Park, when he delivered the envelope.

The lawmaker’s aide also wrote down in his pocket notebook the time of the transaction, which was 10:02 a.m., prosecution sources said.

The JoongAng Ilbo attempted to interview Goh after waiting for him for two days outside his house in Goyang, Gyeonggi. Goh remained tight-lipped when asked if he delivered the envelope stuffed with money and later received it back from Koh. While refusing to answer other questions, Goh only shook his head when asked if the prosecution asked him to show up for questioning.

Goh told Yonhap News Agency recently that he could not remember Koh’s aide’s claim because it happened four years ago.

By Park Jin-seok, Lee Yu-jeong []
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