Arrest warrant sought for Kim Young-jae’s wifeThe independent counsel investigating President Park Geun-hye and her friend Choi Soon-sil’s influence-peddling scandal requested a pretrial arrest warrant for the wife of Dr. Kim Young-jae over an allegation that she bribed the wife of a former presidential aide for preferential treatment.
The wife, Park Chae-yoon, who runs a medical device manufacturing company called Y. Jacobs Medical, is accused of bribing the wife of An Chong-bum, the former senior presidential secretary indicted and detained for attempted coercion and power abuse. Park reportedly provided An’s wife with brand-name bags and free cosmetic treatments.
“As of now we expect the bribes to number at some tens of millions of won in value,” said the counsel’s spokesman Lee Kyu-chul during a press briefing on Thursday.
Park Chae-yoon then allegedly received preferential treatment from the Park administration, via An, who reportedly gave orders to Kim Jin-soo, former presidential secretary for health and welfare, who then gave orders to Jeong Marn-ki, first vice minister of trade, industry and energy, according to the counsel.
The counsel on Thursday summoned Jeong over the allegation.
Y. Jacobs Medical was selected on three occasions to accompany President Park on international trips in the past two years as part of her business delegation.
Park Chae-yoon reportedly accompanied president Park to Latin America in April 2015 and to China in September that year. Kim accompanied the President to France in May last year.
The counsel is also investigating whether the Blue House had pulled strings behind the scene so that the medical device manufacturer could receive a research fund worth 1.5 billion won ($1.3 million) from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy in 2015.
As possible evidence against Park Chae-yoon, the counsel procured a recorded phone conversation between her and An.
“Thank you so much for the gift, my wife is so happy about it,” An tells Park over the phone.
“There will be much more in the future,” Park replies.
“In examining these recorded conversations and other evidences,” an insider to the counsel said, “the counsel sees the wife of Dr. Kim Young-jae as having played a bigger role in bribing the president’s aide more than the doctor did.”
The counsel had already uncovered evidence that the doctor may have received some form of preferential treatment from President Park in return for his alleged secret medical treatments.
Jeong Ho-seong, former presidential secretary indicted for leaking state information to Choi, had testified at the court on Jan. 19 and said, “President Park gave me orders to look into matters to help Dr. Kim Young-jae expand his business to the United Arab Emirates.”
He confirmed that he then gave an order to a senior presidential secretary to look into the matter.
Additionally, Dr. Kim had testified at the National Assembly in December that he and his wife had frequented the Blue House without obtaining proper security checks.
“My wife and I went to the Blue House some five times,” he told the parliamentary committee investigating the scandal.
The counsel is investigating whether the Blue House pulled strings for Kim so that he could expand his business abroad and be appointed as a visiting professor at the Seoul National University Hospital in central Seoul.
Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the center of the probe, was summoned to the counsel’s office in Daechi-dong, southern Seoul, on Thursday for the second day in a row, over an allegation that she took bribes in mediating a government project in Myanmar. She was indicted in November for power abuse, coercion, attempted coercion and attempted fraud.
BY MOON HYUN-KYUNG, ESTHER CHUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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