Prosecutors raid office and home of LKP’s Lee Woo-hyunProsecutors raided opposition Liberty Korea Party Rep. Lee Woo-hyun’s office and residence on Thursday amidst allegations that he had received hundreds of millions of won in bribes, especially when he was in a position to nominate candidates from his party for the 2014 local elections. The same day, prosecutors summoned Rep. Lee to appear for questioning at their office next Monday.
Lee, 60, the current representative of Yongin’s A District in the National Assembly, served in Gyeonggi’s nomination management committee for the Saenuri Party, the predecessor of the Liberal Korea Party, for the 2014 local elections.
He had considerable influence over nominating official Saenuri candidates and was allegedly given 500 million won ($460,000) by a former Namyangju city council chairman who hoped to run in the 2014 local elections as a Saenuri candidate for his district. Boxes containing cash were supposedly delivered to Lee through his former aide.
The former chairman was arrested on Nov. 27 for violating the Political Funds Act. An investigation found that Lee had returned the money to the city council chairman when the latter was not nominated to the candidacy of his choice.
Besides the chairman, individuals ranging from politicians to businessmen are being investigated for having attempted to buy their way into Lee’s favor.
On Monday, prosecutors arrested a businessman involved in electricity production on charges of bribing Lee with hundreds of millions of won.
Prosecutors also raided the home of Bucheon city council’s vice chairman on Nov. 27, and are currently looking into suspicions that Lee received 100 million won from the CEO of an interior design firm and other large bribes from owners of several construction companies.
Prior to starting investigations into Lee, prosecutors had arrested his former aide, surnamed Kim, in a separate case for charges of receiving money from IDS Holdings, an illegal multi-level marketing company.
Their discovery of Kim’s diary, however, helped fuel investigations into Lee when they realized the diary contained names of individuals from whom Lee possibly received bribes.
Since facing allegations, Lee uploaded a response on his online blog and Facebook page denying all accusations made against him as “fictional nonsense.”
He also distanced himself from his former aide, admitting that Kim had once brought him bribes from a candidate wanting to be nominated for the local elections, but that he had responded by reprimanding Kim and ordering for the money to be returned.
Prosecutors, however, plan to conduct investigations, leaving open the possibility that Lee received the bribes.
Some legal experts have suggested that investigations into Lee’s case are being conducted with exceptional attention, given that he had close ties to former President Park Geun-hye and was in a considerable position of influence during her administration.
BY OH WON-SEOK AND KIM EUN-JIN [firstname.lastname@example.org]