A scheme for methodical collusion unfolds

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A scheme for methodical collusion unfolds

The indictment filed by the prosecution has revealed a corruption connection among the Seongnam Development Corporation under the Seongnam city government, Seongnam Council and a private developer over the controversial Wirye New Town project. The community development project was a signature public-private joint real estate development project when Lee Jae-myung, head of Democratic Party, was the mayor of Seongnam. The same people behind the Daejangdong development scandal played a major role in the dubious deals over the Wirye development project, too.

According to the indictment, Yoo Dong-kyu, a former planning director and acting president at the Seongnam Development Corporation, Choi Yoon-gil, former Seongnam City Council chair, and lawyer Nam Wook and accountant Jeong Young-hak, key members of Hwacheon Daeyu — the company behind the Daejangdong scandal — were all closely associated with the founding of the Seongnam Development.When opposition party councilmen opposed the founding bill, Choi attempted to put it to an unprecedented anonymous vote. When the conservative party members walked out in protest to cause shortage in quorum, he pushed ahead with a vote through show of hands. He even included members standing near the assembly doors in the quorum to pass the bill.

In another shock, accountant Jeong — a member of Hwacheon Daeyu who was awarded with Daejangdong development project — had designed the tender guideline to select the private developer. He demanded to rule out participation of private builders in the bid and mandate equal share of dividends between the Seongnam development agency and the private sector. Yoo of the Seongnam Development Corporation received bribes worth 352 million won ($244,275) in 2013 in return for accepting all the demands of Hwacheon Daeyu for the Daejangdong project.

DP Chairman Lee’s name has been implicated in the testimonies. Yoo told private developers that Lee’s reelection in the mayoral election was important for them to continue with real estate projects. He had asked them to contribute to Lee’s reelection. “We are one until death,” “Our focus should be on making Lee win the local election next year,” according to Yoo’s testimonies. He also mentioned he would be briefing the related affair to the mayor.

Lee has claimed innocence since the Daejangdong scandal sprouted out. If the testimonies really are all lies, he must cooperate with a prosecutorial probe to clear his name. Lee vowed to not hide behind the National Assembly immunity in an address to the legislature last month. When the charges on violating the Anti-Corruption Act are upheld in a court, the ill-gotten profit can be seized. All illegal profiteering must be redeemed. Any illegalities in other major property development projects must be thoroughly investigated as well.
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