Digging up suspicionsThe daughter of former special prosecutor Park Young-soo has been accused of receiving a total of 1.1 billion won ($916,280) from Hwacheon Daeyu, the controversial developer behind the Daejang-dong development project scandal. Park’s lawyer argues his daughter, who was employed by Hwacheon Daeyu, just borrowed the money from the company in a legitimate loan arrangement backed by a promissory note. But it does not make sense for a company to lend 1.1 billion won to an employee who was paid 60 million won a year.
Too many abnormalities stemmed from Hwacheon Daeyu and its major shareholder Kim Man-bae. The extraordinary benefits evolve around senior government officials and people who had a say in approving various projects. Former lawmaker Kwak Sang-do was arrested on Feb. 4 as his son who also worked at the developer received 5 billion won in severance pay in return for various favoritism toward the development project.
The prosecution’s investigation has been pitiful. It stalled in raiding and searching the Seongnam city government responsible for approving the development project. Prosecutors also dilly-dallied even after a tip that Kim had handed 5 billion won each to a senior prosecutor and a justice of the Supreme Court. The prosecution’s first filed for the arrest of Kwak in December but was denied due to a lack of evidence.
The conversations between Kim, the major shareholder, and public accountant Jeong Young-hak recently disclosed by the media amid a stalemated prosecutorial probe were shocking. The two discussed handing out billions of won to influential figures. Names included former special prosecutor Park, former justice Kwon Soon-il, former presidential secretary for civil affairs Choi Jae-kyung, former prosecutor general Kim Soo-nam, and Hong Sun-keun, chairman of Money Today Media Group. During a conversation in March 2020, Kim asked Jeong, the accountant, “How many 5 billion (wons) should we pay?” Jeong said, “About 30 billion won.”
A probe is not necessary upon the disclosure of every taped conversation. But if new findings are deemed convincing, prosecutors must investigate. Park’s daughter was also accused of landing an apartment in Daejang-dong through suspicious means. But the prosecution merely summoned Park and Kwon out of formalities. Kwon was paid generously while serving as a legal advisor to Hwacheon Daeyu after retiring from his job in the Supreme Court. Kim had visited Kwon’s office several times before Lee Jae-myung, presidential candidate for the ruling Democratic Party (DP), was referred to the top court for violating the election law.
The prosecution has disappointed the people with its investigation into the development scandal. Its reputation will hit the bottom if it cannot clear the allegations about the five-billion-won payouts.