Former PM receives summons in payoff scandal

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Former PM receives summons in payoff scandal

Former Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo is to be summoned to the prosecution on Thursday to be questioned over allegations that he accepted money from the late construction tycoon Sung Wan-jong, who set off a massive payoff scandal last month following his apparent suicide.

Lee is among the eight politicians the businessman claimed to have given money to in a note he left behind following his apparent suicide on April 9.

Sung said in an interview with a local newspaper a few hours before he was found hanged from a tree branch on Mount Bukhan that he had visited Lee in April 2013, when the former prime minister was running in a by-election in South Chungcheong, and handed over 30 million won ($27,373) in a small box.

“We’ve adjusted schedules with former Prime Minister Lee and he is set to appear at the prosecution at 10 a.m. on Thursday,” one of the prosecutors on the special investigation team said Tuesday. “We haven’t decided to summon him as a witness or as a suspect.”

He is the second person listed on Sung’s memo to be interrogated by the prosecution after South Gyeongsang Governor Hong Joon-pyo.

The prosecution has so far questioned Sung’s secretary, surnamed Geum, and a chauffeur surnamed Yeo.

Prosecutors have reportedly pieced together most of the outline for the day the two men met at Lee’s election office in Buyeo County, South Chungcheong, based on highway tollway records and statements from Sung’s former aides.

Lee’s interrogation on Thursday is expected to focus on whether the former prime minister met Sung in person that day and if he was aware that the tycoon had delivered the 30 million won at his office.

Lee has constantly denied the allegations surrounding him in the scandal, even though his name and the sum of the alleged bribe were stipulated in Sung’s note.

Lee initially insisted that he was not close with Sung, but was forced to resign from his position as prime minister after it was discovered that the two had engaged in more than 200 phone calls over the past year.

BY KIM BONG-MOON [kim.bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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