Another death linked to a Lee Jae-myung scandal
A civil servant who was questioned by the police about the alleged misuse of government-issued corporate cards by Kim Hye-kyung, wife of Democratic Party (DP) lawmaker Lee Jae-myung, was found dead in his home on Tuesday.
It is the fourth death of an individual tied to three scandals involving Lee, who was Gyeonggi governor before losing the March presidential race for the DP. Lee was elected to the National Assembly to represent Incheon's Gyeyang B district on June 1.
According to the Suwon Nambu Police Precinct on Wednesday, the man, who was not identified but was described as being in his 40s, was found dead at his home in Yeongtong District, Suwon, Gyeonggi at around 12:20 p.m. on Tuesday.
The man, who was recently questioned by the Gyeonggi Nambu Police Agency, was an acquaintance of a whistleblower who first reported Kim’s alleged misuse of corporate cards issued by the Gyeonggi provincial government during her husband’s time as governor.
A police official explained that the recently deceased man “was investigated as a witness, but not as a key witness,” adding that the man “was not a person being eyed as a possible suspect” in the case.
In the absence of signs of forced entry into the man’s home, police believe that the man committed suicide, although no note has been discovered.
Police will conduct an autopsy to determine the cause of death.
The conservative People Power Party (PPP) filed a criminal complaint against Lee and Kim in February, alleging Kim ordered public officials to run private errands and paid for personal expenses such as food deliveries with her husband’s government-issued corporate card. Lee has denied the allegations.
The Gyeonggi Nambu Police Agency has contacted 129 restaurants in Gyeonggi and the wider Seoul metropolitan area since April as part of their probe into the allegations against Lee and his wife. The probe is expected to wrap up in mid-August, according to the agency.
The scandal surrounding the misuse of government-issued corporate cards is not the only controversy tied to Lee.
Lee also faces accusations that the profit structure of the Daejang-dong development project in Seongnam, just south of Seoul, was rigged to favor his associates at the time it was launched during his 2010-2018 tenure as Seongnam mayor.
The project attracted the attention of investigators after it was revealed that a small stakeholder in the mixed public-private consortium in charge of the development — a previously little-known asset management company called Hwacheon Daeyu — raked in disproportionately large profits from a minor investment.
Lee is also suspected of having others pay his legal fees during an election law violation case in 2018. That allegation was exposed by a whistleblower who provided a transcript that suggests that Lee’s defense attorney in the case received 300 million won ($230,000) and stock worth 2 billion won.
While Lee has denied all allegations against him, the whistleblower in his election law violation case has since died, while two officials tied to the Daejang-dong development scandal have been found dead after committing suicide.
The whistleblower was found dead on Jan. 12 in what police later ruled was a death by illness. Kim Moon-ki, head of the development division at the Seongnam Development Corporation, was found dead after committing suicide on Dec. 21, days after Yoon Han-gi, head of the Pocheon Urban Corporation, was found to have died by suicide on Dec. 10.
BY MICHAEL LEE [email@example.com]