DUP’s Moon aided corrupt politician in former job

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DUP’s Moon aided corrupt politician in former job

Moon Jae-in, the presidential front-runner of the liberal opposition Democratic United Party, came under fire yesterday for having defended a corrupt politician’s money-for-nomination case while working as a lawyer in Busan.

Representative Moon, former chief of staff of the Roh Moo-hyun Blue House, is a leading candidate for the largest opposition party’s presidential primary. The revelation of his defense of a corrupt politician convicted of selling a nomination put a damper on Moon’s campaign as his pledges include political reform.

After passing the bar exam in 1980, Moon has practiced law for most of his career, except for the years that he joined the Blue House during Roh’s presidency.

After serving as the presidential chief of staff, Moon went back to his law firm in Busan, in 2008. He made a comeback to politics this year, winning a lawmaker seat in the April legislative election and declaring his bid to represent the DUP in the December presidential election.

When he returned to his law firm, one of his clients was Suh Chung-won, a conservative political heavyweight accused of selling proportional representative nominations in the 2008 legislative elections.

At the time, Suh was co-chairman of the Pro-Park United, a political party made up of Park Geun-hye loyalists, although Park was never a member. Claiming that they were discriminated against in the nomination process of the Grand National Party, the predecessor of the Saenuri Party, some Park loyalists left the GNP and created the Pro-Park United.

Suh, a former six-term lawmaker, was later accused of receiving more than 3.2 billion won ($2.8 million) from two candidates in return for the party’s nominations.

During his appeal, Suh hired high-profile lawmakers including Moon for his defense council. He still lost the case and the Supreme Court upheld the conviction in May 2009.

Suh and two other candidates who won proportional representative seats were stripped of their lawmaker positions. Suh was ordered to serve 18 months in prison for his crime.

After his controversial client was revealed, Moon faced criticism for having defended a corrupt politician despite his pledges to eradicate corruption from the political arena.

After a money-for-nomination scandal recently broke out in the rival Saenuri Party, Moon criticized the conservative ruling party and its presidential front-runner Park over the allegation. His latest criticism came on Tuesday when he said “It is a problem that the Saenuri Party has a tradition of demanding large bribes during the nomination process,” and “Park, a leader of the Saenuri Party, is responsible for the tradition.”

Moon’s campaign tried to defend him from the criticism of maintaining a double standard. They told local media, including the Yonhap News Agency, that Moon’s law firm took the case, thus Moon was named among the defense counsel and he was simply doing his job as a lawyer.

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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