Bribes alleged by Hyundai to 8 legislators in 2006

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Bribes alleged by Hyundai to 8 legislators in 2006

Prosecutors have secured testimony that Hyundai Motor Group bribed eight incumbent lawmakers of then ruling liberal Uri Party in 2006 while its chairman was on trial on bribery charges, according to prosecution sources Saturday.

The central investigative unit of the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office confirmed Saturday that Kim Dong-jin, a former Hyundai Motor vice chairman, told investigators he bribed young lawmakers of the Uri Party, then ruling party of the late President Roh Moo-hyun, in late 2006.

The prosecutors’ elite unit has been investigating Lee Hwa-young, former lawmaker of the Uri Party, for taking bribes from Jeil Savings Bank. The savings bank was suspended last year by the financial watchdog for illegal and lax management.

Kim, 62, said he gave 10 million won ($8,936) and two bottles of expensive wine to each of the eight lawmakers after they met with Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo at a Seoul hotel.

The meeting was held as the 74-year-old Chung was awaiting a court decision after being released on bail. At that time, the chairman had already spent two months in a detention center after being indicted in April 2006 for embezzling 120 billion won and giving kickbacks to politicians.

According to prosecutors, the ex-vice chairman, Kim, said he appealed to the lawmakers, who were considered influential within the ruling party, to create public opinion favorable to the business mogul in hopes of a lenient sentence.

The initial court sentenced him to a three-year jail term in December 2007, but did not put him in prison right away.

Three out of eight lawmakers mentioned in Kim’s testimony, including Lee Hwa-young, received nominations from the Democratic United Party for the upcoming legislative elections. Lee denied the bribery allegation.

By Park Jin-seok, Yonhap [enational@joongang.co.kr]

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