Prosecutors grilled in Lime Asset probeTwo state prosecutors and one former prosecutor were grilled by the prosecution office earlier this week over allegations that they received red carpet treatment from a prime suspect behind a snowballing financial fraud scandal involving Lime Asset Management, informed officials said Tuesday.
The rare summons came after Kim Bong-hyun, the former chairman of Star Mobility — known as the main financial source for Lime Asset — claimed that he spent about 10 million won ($9,032) on July 12, 2019, to throw a party at a southern Seoul bar for the three sitting prosecutors to cover up the Lime scandal and evade investigations. One of them later left the prosecution to become a private lawyer.
Lime Asset, founded in 2012, has been under investigation over its alleged cover-up of massive losses and the subsequent suspension of fund redemption worth an estimated 1.6 trillion won.
Kim, under arrest since April on embezzlement charges, made the allegations in a letter from prison released by his lawyers on Oct. 16. In the letter, he also argued that he was introduced to the three prosecutors by an acquaintance and that one of the three later joined a team investigating the Lime scandal.
According to informed officials at the Seoul Southern District Prosecutors' Office, the three people were summoned Sunday to be questioned about Kim's allegations and asked to prove their alibis for July 12, 2019.
They reportedly denied being treated by Kim during the prosecution's questioning, with the prosecutor-turned-lawyer telling reporters that he gave a sufficient explanation on his alibi on the alleged date of Kim's drinking party.
Last Friday, prosecutors from the Seoul prosecutors' office raided the office and residence of one of the three.
Meanwhile, the prosecution plans to call in two other known attendees of the party — Lee Jong-pil, former vice president of Lime, and a former official of the presidential office Blue House, surnamed Kim — for a cross-examination with the former Star Mobility chairman to verify his contentions.
In his prison letter, the former chairman insisted that Lee and the former Blue House official were also on hand at the drinking party, while adding the date of the meeting could also be July 18, 2019.
Lee was arrested in April and indicted for fraud and violating capital market and financial investment laws.
The former Blue House official, who was recently sentenced by a district court to four years in prison for taking bribes from the former Star Mobility chairman in exchange for leaking information related to the Financial Supervisory Service's inspection into Lime, reportedly visited the southern Seoul bar several times.