Politics K-water raided in Hwang Hee probe

K-water raided in Hwang Hee probe
Democratic Party Rep. Hwang Hee
Democratic Party Rep. Hwang Hee
The police announced a raid on K-water, a government agency overseeing water resources development, as part of a probe investigating corruption charges against Democratic Party (DP) Rep. Hwang Hee.
 
The raid was conducted earlier this month, the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said Thursday, and led to the confiscation of cell phones and computers that are being examined for evidence.
 
The raid came nearly four years after the People Power Party (PPP) first raised accusations against Hwang, who at the time was chosen by former President Moon Jae-in to serve as culture minister. Despite opposition from the PPP, Moon appointed him anyway.
 
The PPP claimed that Hwang, a longtime ally of Moon, spearheaded parliamentary efforts to pass a bill that allowed K-water to construct a building within a smart city complex in Busan to lease out while he was serving on the National Assembly’s Land, Infrastructure and Transport Committee in March 2018.
 
In return, the PPP said Hwang received 10 million won ($7,756) in political funds from a senior K-water official.
 
Hwang adamantly denied the accusation when asked by a JoongAng Ilbo reporter on Thursday, calling it “preposterous.” The DP lawmaker said he did not personally know the K-water official who offered him the donation, stressing that he was simply working to realize the central government’s vision of building so-called smart city zones in Busan and Sejong.
 
The allegations surrounding Hwang received fresh momentum in February 2021 when a local civic group filed a criminal complaint accusing Hwang and two K-water officials of violating the Political Funds Act. The complaint was referred to the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency two months later.
 
Asked why the police were raiding K-water a year later – after the PPP’s Yoon Suk-yeol was elected president – a Seoul police spokesperson denied any political pressure, saying investigative authorities had worked on the case “even before the raid.”
 
The spokesperson said police would continue the probe and try to focus on the nature of the donation, especially whether Hwang had provided favors to K-water for financial returns.

BY YANG SU-MIN, LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]
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