Probe of Lee leads to raid of DAS auto parts maker

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Probe of Lee leads to raid of DAS auto parts maker

Prosecutors raided the headquarters of a local auto parts maker Thursday as part of an investigation into allegations that the company maintained a secret fund for former President Lee Myung-bak.

Investigators from the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office searched the headquarters of DAS in Gyeongju, 371 kilometers (230 miles) southeast of Seoul, and confiscated evidence, the prosecution said.

Prosecutors suspect that the company has kept a 12 billion won ($11.2 million) slush fund under dozens of fake names, embezzled funds and evaded taxes. DAS is controlled by Lee’s older brother, but rumors have persisted that the former president is the real owner of the company.

Lee, who was president from 2008 to 2013, was investigated over the allegations but cleared of the charges. However, the prosecution reopened the case late last year after a formal complaint was filed by a civic group, a lawyers’ association against Lee and the independent counsel that was in charge of the case in 2008.

They accused Lee of embezzlement and concealment of criminal proceeds, among other charges. The complaint also accused then-Special Counsel Chung Ho-young of failing to do his job.

The complaint came on the heels of rekindled suspicions surrounding DAS, following media reports that Lee’s son was named head of several DAS factories in China, even though he has no shares in the company.

A separate investigation is underway over the company’s recouping of a 14 billion won investment from an investment advisory firm set up by Lee’s former business partner. A group of investors who never recovered their losses filed a complaint accusing Lee of pulling the strings for DAS to take back the investment ahead of them.

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