Gyeonggi gov't raided in probe of candidate's wife
Ahead of the March 9 presidential election, Kim Hye-kyung, wife of former Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung, was accused of using civil servants to run personal errands and using a provincial government corporate credit card to charge private expenses.
The Gyeonggi Nambu Police Agency's anticorruption investigation bureau dispatched officers to search several offices at the provincial government building, including in the general administration division, medical clinic, general audit division and investigation division.
Around 10 investigators were dispatched at around 10:20 a.m.
Investigators also searched for evidence of allegations that Kim received prescriptions illegally through a proxy and used a Gyeonggi government official as a personal secretary.
Lee and Kim's residence was not included in this search.
Lee served as governor from July 2018 to October 2021, when he stepped down to run for president.
Last December, the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) filed a complaint against former Lee, Kim and a Gyeonggi government official only identified by the surname Bae, accusing them of abuse of power, violating the law on prescription medicine and causing losses to the national treasury.
In January, SBS and other media reported that Kim had forced provincial officials to run personal errands such as picking up prescription medicine under another person's name and delivering food to her home. Kim was also accused of using a corporate credit card to bill the provincial government for private expenses.
The whistleblower, a former Gyeonggi government secretary, shared with media screen grabs of messaging app texts and photos with Bae, a senior provincial government official in the general affairs division, discussing errands for Kim. He claimed he was instructed by Bae to use the government credit card to pay for Kim's meals and to deliver them to the governor's residence on multiple occasions.
The PPP accused Kim of using Bae, a Grade 5 civil servant on the taxpayers' payroll, as a personal secretary for three years while Lee was Gyeonggi governor. Bae, in turn, is accused of having ordered the whistleblower to run Kim's personal errands and instructed him to use the corporate card when paying for some of the meals. Bae worked for the provincial government from July 2018 to September 2021.
Since 2016, the government has prohibited spouses of local government heads from receiving support from civil servants for personal activities. Likewise, government credit cards are not to be used for personal expenses.
A police officer said on the search Monday, "This is to secure documents to look into allegations raised by the media and the PPP."
The police received some 10 complaints from political parties and civic groups and launched the investigation into Kim last month.
The Gyeonggi provincial government filed another complaint against Bae on March 25 for embezzlement and breach of trust.
Choi Seung-ryul, commissioner of the Gyeonggi Nambu Police Agency, said in a press conference, "We will be able to speak on whether Kim will be summoned after analyzing the confiscated material."
He said that while Lee is included in the complaints, "that doesn't mean that he will be summoned."
In a press conference in early February, Kim apologized for the controversy surrounding her alleged ethical lapses and abuse of power when her husband was governor.
She said that she should have been more careful, offering her apologies to the people and to the whistleblower.
BY SARAH KIM [email@example.com]