Show Lee the evidenceA development project for Pangyo District in Seongnam city, led by Gyeonggi Governor Lee Jae-myung, a front-runner in the ruling Democratic Party (DP)’s primary to pick its presidential candidate, has come under fire. He pushed the project while he was the mayor of the city in 2015. A fledging company which joined the 1.15-trillion-won ($981 million) project to develop a space of 968,890 square meters (97 hectares) in Daejang-dong in Pangyo is accused of having pocketed tens of billions of won in dividends.
The company’s owner is a retired journalist who interviewed Lee in 2014. Former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, Lee’s rival from the opposition People Power Party (PPP), demanded the Corruption Investigation Office for High-ranking Officials immediately launch an investigation into the case.
In a press conference on Tuesday, Gov. Lee accused PPP lawmakers and conservative media of spreading negative and false information. “The Daejang-dong development is my biggest achievement during my Seongnam mayorship, as it is a model public project that returned 550.3 billion won in revenue from the project to the local people,” Lee insisted. He strongly denied the favoritism allegation. The retired journalist claimed that he owned the 100-percent stake but did not get involved in management. He also argued the company saw losses in the joint public-private project.
But the PPP ratcheted up its offensive. Former Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, Lee’s primary rival in the DP’s primary, also joined the chorus on demanding an investigation.
The allegations should be backed by documental evidence first. A former senior prosecutor said the allegations have so far lacked tangible evidence to start a criminal investigation. The PPP’s presidential candidates who had raised the issue also must provide proof or otherwise they will send their presidential campaign further into a negative race.
The retired journalist must explain how he was able to invest in such a large infrastructure project while working at a news outlet. Another question involves why he interviewed Lee before starting his own business. As soon as related parties present the grounds for their arguments, the case should be quickly resolved through an investigation by a law enforcement agency or the parliament if necessary so that political wrangling does not further anguish the lives of the people.