Detention sought for Lee Jae-myung’s ‘right-hand man’
Prosecutors on Wednesday filed for a pre-trial detention warrant for Jeong Jin-sang, vice chief of staff to Democratic Party (DP) Chairman Lee Jae-myung, on bribery and corruption charges linked to a real estate development scandal in Seongnam, Gyeonggi.
The move came just hours after prosecutors finished questioning Jeong, who’s widely known as Lee’s “right-hand man,” for nearly 14 hours on Tuesday at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office.
Jeong was said to have denied all allegations against him, saying through his lawyer that the suspicions were groundless.
Prosecutors nonetheless decided to ask a local court to detain him before trial, saying he may try to destroy evidence.
The Seoul Central District Court is scheduled to review the warrant on Friday at 2 p.m.
The assigned judge is the same one who issued a pre-trial detention warrant for Kim Yong, deputy head of the DP-affiliated think tank Institute for Democracy, another close aide to Lee.
Prosecutors believe Kim, Jeong and Yoo Dong-gyu, former planning director of the Seongnam Development Corporation, were closest to Lee when the DP chairman oversaw the project while serving as mayor of Seongnam city and governor of Gyeonggi province.
Kim is currently detained. Yoo was detained for a year from Oct. 21, 2021 and is now on trial after being released.
In Jeong’s pre-trail detention warrant application, prosecutors said they described Lee and Jeong as having formed a “political community,” hinting they were zeroing in on the DP chairman.
Lee has denied any wrongdoing and accused prosecutors and the Yoon Suk-yeol administration of sabotaging him and seeking “political revenge” against him and his liberal party.
Four charges were pressed against Jeong in the warrant, according to prosecutors: bribery, corruption, aiding and abetting to destroy evidence and “accepting bribes after taking improper action.”
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 in the Seongnam city government office and Gyeonggi provincial government office.
For a bribe of that size, Jeong could face 10 years or more in prison, and possibly life imprisonment.
On corruption, 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 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.
Prosecutors on Wednesday said they were confident Jeong would be detained because they submitted proof to the court that Jeong tried to destroy evidence when they raided his residence last week.
BY LEE SUNG-EUN [email@example.com]