Endless suspicion over Lee

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Endless suspicion over Lee

 A senior prosecutor loyal to the government is accused of blocking an investigation into Lee Jae-myung, presidential candidate of ruling Democratic Party (DP), for allegedly collecting corporate funds for Seongnam FC, the city’s football club, while Lee was the mayor in return for favors. The Seongnam division of the prosecution denied the allegation. Prosecutor General Kim Oh-soo must instruct the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office to conduct a thorough inspection into the suspicion.

Park Ha-young, a prosecutor who had been handling the case, resigned Tuesday. He is said to have confided in an acquaintance that his immediate boss repeatedly did not accept a request for a further investigation into the funding allegation. The boss refers to Seongnam branch chief Park Eun-jung, who served as an inspector under former Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae and led the inspection on then Prosecutor General Yoon Suk-yeol in November 2020.

While serving as Seongnam mayor from 2015 to 2017 and co-heading the football club, DP candidate Lee reportedly received 16 billion won ($13.4 million) from six companies as donations and in return offered favors for their businesses in the city. In June 2018, the opposition People Power Party (PPP) accused Lee of third-party bribery, but the Bundang police was sitting on the case for three years and finally decided not to refer it to the prosecution citing lack of evidence. The case eventually arrived at the Seongnam branch of the prosecution. Senior prosecutor Park, who came to head the branch in July last year, is said to have blocked the investigation.

After a deputy prosecutor submitted his resignation in protest, the prosecutor general ordered the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office to look into the affair. But the office is also headed by a pro-government head.

The Moon Jae-in government has bulldozed away with prosecutorial reforms led by Cho Kuk to divide investigative power. Due to the scattered investigative power, various probes on corruptions have been deadlocked.

Yet Lee Cheol-hee, senior presidential secretary for political affairs, said in an interview that President Moon commands high approval rating s there are no corruption allegations related to his family or aides. But that’s because the prosecution’s investigations on various criminal charges have been stalled or blocked. The allegation on the bartered donations should also be examined thoroughly.
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