Prosecution will indict Hong, LeeThe prosecution announced Wednesday it has decided to indict South Gyeongsang Governor Hong Joon-pyo and former Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo without detention on allegations that the men took bribes from the late construction tycoon Sung Wan-jong.
The businessman was found hanged from a tree on Mount Bukhan on April 9, with a note in his pocket listing the names of eight influential politicians, including Hong and Lee, next to sums of money he allegedly paid them.
The incident involving Sung, the former chairman of Keangnam Enterprises, sparked a massive payoff scandal last month that upended the political establishment. Hong and Lee were the first on the list to be questioned and now face indictment.
The prosecutors said the decision not to detain them was made, in part, because the amount of money Hong and Lee each allegedly received was less than 200 million won ($182,460), the minimum standard required to seek a detention warrant.
The exact dates for the indictments were not disclosed.
According to prosecutors, the special investigation team in charge of the case believes Hong was given 100 million won from Sung via Yoon Seong-mo, the former vice president of Keangnam Enterprises, in June 2011, when Hong ran for the chairmanship of the Grand National Party, the predecessor to the ruling Saenuri Party.
Prosecutors added that the team had secured enough evidence to prove the accusation against Hong, including an interview Sung had with a local newspaper just hours he was found dead.
Lee is being investigated over an accusation that Sung gave him 30 million won in April 2013, at the former prime minister’s office in South Chung-cheong.
Prosecutors further mentioned that there was no indication Hong or Lee had attempted to destroy evidence.
Both men’s close aides were also summoned in the investigation that led to their pending indictments.
Yoon earlier testified that he had personally delivered the money to the governor at the National Assembly, and Lee’s driver claimed that Lee and Sung had met at Lee’s office in 2013.
Prosecutors said they will extend their probe to include the other men listed in the note, including Saenuri lawmaker Hong Moon-jong, Incheon Mayor Yoo Jeong-bok and Busan Mayor Suh Byung-soo. Sung claimed in the note that he had given them 200 million won, 300 million won and 200 million won, respectively.
BY KIM BAEK-KI [firstname.lastname@example.org]