Daejang-dong conversation released, raises more questions about Lee
An opposition lawmaker on Monday released an additional transcript of a conversation between two key figures in the Daejang-dong development corruption scandal, once again raising questions about ruling Democratic Party candidate Lee Jae-myung's role in the case.
Main opposition People Power Party (PPP) lawmaker Kim Eun-hye released a transcript on Facebook that relayed a conversation between accountant Jeong Young-hak and lawyer Nam Wook on April 17, 2013.
Both Jeong and Nam were indicted in November by prosecutors as accomplices in corruption surrounding the Daejang-dong residential development in Seongnam, Gyeonggi, where Lee served as mayor between 2010 and 2018.
The Daejang-dong project spearheaded by a mixed public-private consortium led by the Seongnam Development Corporation was launched in 2015, during Lee’s term.
The project has since been mired in allegations that officials at the city developer skewed the project’s profit distribution scheme to favor small asset management company Hwacheon Daeyu and its owner Kim Man-bae, as well as the company’s Cheonhwa Dongin affiliates.
In the transcript released by Kim Eun-hye on Monday, Nam recounted a conversation he had with another person to Jeong. According to Nam, the other person said, “I made it clear that day that I'm not interested in Daejang-dong. I can persuade the mayor, but isn't that a matter for me to decide?”
Although Nam did not specify who he was talking to in the transcript, the PPP lawmaker claimed that the recording showed that Nam “heard about a secret conversation that Yoo Dong-gyu had with Lee.”
Yoo was the acting president of the Seongnam Development Corporation at the time the Daejang-dong project launched. A former campaign aide to Lee, Yoo is currently indicted on charges of committing breach of trust and bribery by helping Hwacheon Daeyu reap outsized profits compared to its relatively minor stake in the in project.
Kim further claimed that the transcript shows Nam relayed a conversation Yoo and then-mayor Lee had regarding the Daejang-dong development to Jeong.
In the transcript, Nam also told Jeong that the unspecified individual told him, “I just need to discuss with you how to package this and throw it to the mayor. It will be easy. The mayor even drew up a picture, so only you and I should know this.”
The term “picture” in Korean here is used in a figurative sense to refer to a plan or scheme that will soon pan out.
Nam added that the person told him, “We only need 100 billion won [$83 million]. Then it will all be solved. I don’t care about Daejang-dong or anything. You take care of it. Just make sure it happens.”
While the speaker of those remarks was not clear from the transcript, the PPP lawmaker claimed that candidate Lee was the one who said, “We only need 100 billion won.”
Pointing to the remarks, Kim asked, “What kind of picture did Mayor Lee Jae-myung draw up when he met Yoo Dong-gyu? How can he claim he has no relationship between Yoo Dong-gyu, when apparently he is drawing up [plans] for him?”
Based on the transcript, Kim accused Lee of paving the way for Kim Man-bae and his business partners to profit excessively from the Daejang-dong project while pretending to be disinterested.
“The truth according to the transcript appears to be that not only was Lee actually interested in the Daejang-dong development, but the whole scheme was drawn up by Lee Jae-myung,” adding, “Lee is the main culprit behind the Daejang-dong [scandal].”
At an October parliamentary audit of the Gyeonggi provincial government in the provincial capital of Suwon, Lee insisted his role in the Daejang-dong development was focused on the proper use of public funds, and that he entrusted specifics to other officials.
BY MICHAEL LEE [firstname.lastname@example.org]