Lee Jae-myung's 'right-hand man' taken in for investigation

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Lee Jae-myung's 'right-hand man' taken in for investigation

Jeong Jin-sang, center, a vice chief of staff to Lee Jae-myung, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, arrives at the Seoul Central District Court on Nov. 18 to attend a hearing to review whether a warrant will be granted for his arrest in connection with his corruption allegations. [YONHAP]

Jeong Jin-sang, center, a vice chief of staff to Lee Jae-myung, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, arrives at the Seoul Central District Court on Nov. 18 to attend a hearing to review whether a warrant will be granted for his arrest in connection with his corruption allegations. [YONHAP]

 
One of the main opposition leader's closest confidants was investigated by prosecutors on Sunday afternoon after being arrested on charges linked to a real estate development scandal in Seongnam, Gyeonggi.
 
Jeong Jin-sang, vice chief of staff to Democratic Party (DP) Chairman Lee Jae-myung and widely known as Lee’s “right-hand man,” was investigated at the Seoul Detention Center on Sunday following his arrest early Saturday morning.
 
The prosecution is reportedly planning to reconfirm the charges stated in the warrant and launch a full-fledged investigation into whether Lee was involved.
 
Prosecutors believe Jeong took 140 million won ($106,000) in kickbacks in six transactions from real estate developers linked to the Daejang-dong land development project from February 2013 to October 2020 while he worked at the Seongnam city government office and Gyeonggi provincial government office.
 
The Daejang-dong land development scandal centers on allegations that an obscure and small private asset management company, Hwacheon Daeyu, and its affiliates reaped exponential profits from the 2015 project, which was during Lee's time as Seongnam's mayor.
 
Prosecutors believe Jeong leaked inside information he obtained while working for the Seongnam and Gyeonggi governments to real estate developers, helping them make nearly 21 billion won.
 
With aiding and abetting to destroy evidence, Jeong is suspected of telling Yoo Dong-gyu, former planning director of the Seongnam Development Corporation, which was in charge of the project, to throw his mobile phone out the window when prosecutors were about to raid Yoo’s residence late last year.
 
On the charge of accepting bribes after taking improper action, prosecutors allege that Jeong was promised a 24.5 percent stake in a private developer’s investment, worth about 42.8 billion won, in return for favors.
 
Earlier, the court granted an arrest warrant for Jeong, saying that there was a risk of him destroying evidence and running away following an 8-hour, 10-minute warrant review.
 
Jeong's lawyer said, prior to the prosecution's investigation, that Jeong denies all allegations against him.
 
Meanwhile, other key suspects who have already been arrested and put on trial for the Daejang-dong land development project are to be released one after another this week.
 
Lawyer Nam Wook, the owner of Cheonhwa Dongin No. 5, an affiliate of Hwacheon Daeyu, who had been detained at the Seoul Detention Center, will be released Monday following the expiration of his detention period.
 
It has been exactly one year since Nam was arrested and indicted on charges of taking huge profits from the Daejang-dong project and causing damage to the construction.
 
Kim Man-bae, the largest stakeholder in Hwacheon Daeyu, will be released Thursday, also due to the expiration of his detention.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun1@joongang.co.kr]
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