Lee’s son to be summoned over retirement home

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Lee’s son to be summoned over retirement home

The team of special prosecutors investigating suspicions over a now-scrapped retirement home project for President Lee Myung-bak said yesterday it will summon Lee’s only son in the middle of the week for questioning.

The scandal centers around a deal last year by Lee Si-hyung, the 34-year-old son of President Lee, and the presidential security service to jointly purchase a plot of land in an affluent Seoul neighborhood for a retirement home for President Lee and auxiliary facilities for security personnel.

The younger Lee, however, is under suspicion of not sharing the cost evenly, with the security service paying too high a price for the site for security facilities in what the opposition has claimed was a scheme to allow the son to profit from buying the site at a below-market price.

“We expect the summons date to be determined by the middle of this week,” special counsel Lee Kwang-bum said in a press briefing, noting that the younger Lee will be summoned as a “suspect” not a “witness” after security measures are settled.

Meanwhile, the president’s oldest brother, Lee Sang-eun, has been asked by the team to return home from an overseas trip as soon as possible to face questioning about the 600 million won ($542,000) he allegedly had loaned his nephew Lee Si-hyung, who used the money to buy the land.

In addition, Lee Sang-eun’s wife, identified only by her surname Park, was asked to appear for questioning on Sunday to determine what she knew about the money.

The summons dates for both Lee Sang-eun and Park have not yet been determined, they said.

Since the allegations were raised, the presidential office has flatly rejected suspicions it was an illicit scheme to help the president’s son profit. President Lee later scrapped the project and decided to move into his existing private house in Nonhyeon-dong in southern Seoul after leaving office.

The rival parties sought the special investigation after prosecutors wrapped up an inquiry into the scandal in June this year without filing charges against anyone involved, including the younger Lee, saying all suspicions in the case had been resolved. The prosecutors said there was no evidence of malpractice in dividing the cost of the plot between the president’s son and the presidential office. They also said there is no evidence that the president tried to buy land illegally in his son’s name. Yonhap

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