Homicide ruled out in death related to Daejang-dong scandal

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Homicide ruled out in death related to Daejang-dong scandal

Democratic Party presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung (right) and Kim Moon-gi (left) in a 2015 photo taken in Australia that was released by Seongnam city council member Lee Gi-in on Thursday, after Lee denied knowing Kim during his term as Seongnam's mayor. In the middle is Yoo Dong-gyu, the now-indicted former acting president of Seongnam Development Corporation. [LEE GI-IN]

Democratic Party presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung (right) and Kim Moon-gi (left) in a 2015 photo taken in Australia that was released by Seongnam city council member Lee Gi-in on Thursday, after Lee denied knowing Kim during his term as Seongnam's mayor. In the middle is Yoo Dong-gyu, the now-indicted former acting president of Seongnam Development Corporation. [LEE GI-IN]

 
A preliminary autopsy of the body of Kim Moon-gi, a Seongnam Development Corporation official questioned for his connection to the Daejang-dong development scandal who was found dead in his office Tuesday evening, has ruled out homicide, according to police on Thursday.
 
The Gyeonggi Bundang Police Precinct said it received the autopsy report from the National Forensic Service, which determined the cause of Kim’s death to be “asphyxiation by hanging.”
 
Kim, who was the director of the Seongnam Development Corporation's project development team, was being investigated as a person of interest in the Daejang-dong development corruption scandal.
 
Prosecutors allege that officials at Seongnam Development Corporation helped set up the project’s profit distribution scheme to favor small asset management company Hwacheon Daeyu in exchange for bribes.
 
They allege that such favoritism enabled the company from 2019 to rake in a profit of 57.7 billion won ($48.3 million) on an investment of 49.95 million won, which was a 1 percent stake in the project in Seongnam, Gyeonggi.
 
The company also made 300 billion won in sales of apartments in the development, while its Cheonhwa Dongin affiliates reaped an additional 400 billion won in profits.
 
Hwacheon Daeyu’s outsized profits have also raised suspicions that the company’s owner, former journalist Kim Man-bae, benefited from his acquaintance with Democratic Party presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung, who was Seongnam’s mayor at the time the Daejang-dong development was launched.
 
Lee himself faced renewed suspicion concerning his involvement in the project after photos of the candidate in the company of Kim and others on various occasions surfaced on Thursday, shortly after the candidate denied knowing Kim personally.
 
The photos, released by Seongnam city council member Lee Gi-in, showed the two men posing together in a group on a trip to Australia in 2015.
 
Also in the photos with Lee and Kim are Yoo Dong-gyu, former acting president of the Seongnam Development Corporation who is currently indicted for breach of trust and bribery in the Daejang-dong case.
 
The council member released the photos after Lee denied knowing Kim during his term as mayor in a television interview with SBS on Wednesday evening.
 
He is the second official from the city-run developer to die this month, after the death of Yoo Han-ki, president of the Pocheon Development Corporation and former head of the Seongnam Development Corporation's project development project division, on Dec. 10.
 
Although police believe that Kim, like Yoo, took his own life in connection with the allegations he faced in the Daejang-dong development scandal, they have not yet announced if a suicide note had been found in Kim’s case.
 
According to the state prosecution service, Kim was last summoned by investigators on Dec. 9 as a witness — not as a suspect — in the Daejang-dong development scandal.
 
When the Daejang-dong development in Seongnam was launched in 2015, Kim was the chief of the city developer’s project development division.

BY MICHAEL LEE [lee.junhyuk@joongang.co.kr]
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