Team bars 10 from travel in Lee home case

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Team bars 10 from travel in Lee home case

The team of special independent prosecutors, formed on Monday to look into suspicions over the retirement home project of President Lee Myung-bak, yesterday barred 10 people, including the president’s 34-year-old son Si-hyung, from leaving the country.

The team said Lee’s older brother Sang-eun, 79, the chairman of Das Corporation, who lent 600 million won ($542,000) to the president’s son, left the country before the request had been made. The money was used by the President’s son to buy land in Naegok-dong, southern Seoul, where the president’s retirement home and auxiliary facilities were projected to be located.

“We have requested the travel ban against the 10 people to the Ministry of Justice yesterday for a probe,” a spokesman for the special investigation team said.

The investigation team didn’t name the 10, but sources said Kim In-jong, 67, a former chief of the Presidential Security Service, who led the land purchase, is included in the travel ban.

“The president’s older brother Lee Sang-eun was also on our list, but the Justice Ministry yesterday confirmed that he already has left the country on Monday, a day before we requested the travel ban,” said Seo Hyung-seok, a spokesman for the investigation team.

Seo added that the land owner surnamed Yoo, who sold the plot in Naegok-dong, is subject to investigation, but left the country on May 12.

“The president’s brother is on a business trip,” said a spokesman for Das Corporation, denying allegations that the brother is trying to avoid the investigation. Sources told the JoongAng Ilbo that the brother went to Wendeng City, China, and will likely return to Korea next week.

By Shim Sae-rom, Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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