Lee Jae-myung to be questioned by prosecutors on Tuesday
A critical week awaits Democratic Party (DP) chief Lee Jae-myung, who will be questioned by the prosecution on Tuesday over bribery allegations surrounding Seongnam’s football club.
An Ho-young, a DP spokesman, confirmed Friday that Lee will comply with the prosecution’s summons and appear at the Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office’s Seongnam branch at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday morning for questioning on allegations he had received “third-party” bribes through the Seongnam FC football club while he served as the city’s mayor.
An said that the date was set after talks between prosecution and Lee’s defense team.
Lee previously rejected a prosecution summons on Dec. 28, saying he had prior engagements. He left his schedule empty over the weekend in preparation for the questioning.
He has recently hired another lawyer and is expected to be accompanied by up to two attorneys and party leadership Tuesday.
Lee, with the lawyers, is reportedly reviewing the expected questions from the prosecution and facts that were clarified during past police investigation.
The Suwon District Prosecutors’ Office is investigating allegations that the Seongnam city government granted favorable business treatment to six entities, including Doosan Engineering & Construction and Naver, in return for 16 billion won ($11.2 million) transferred to the Seongnam FC in the mid-2010s.
Prosecutors allege that the football club was the conduit by which money was delivered to Lee, who served as mayor of Seongnam from 2010 to 2018.
Prosecutors are expected to question Lee on whether the donations to the Seongnam FC by these companies were in exchanges for various permits and other business favors.
Lee’s representatives maintain that corporate sponsorship was handled by Seongnam FC club on its own, and “there was no illegality in any way.” They have said Lee plans to refute all accusations raised by the prosecution.
In September 2021, police cleared Lee, then Gyeonggi governor, of charges that he had pressured companies to provide money to the Seongnam FC.
Lee, who was defeated in the March 9, 2022 presidential election, said he had proved his innocence two years ago and is confident he could do so again.
This would be the first time Lee would appear for questioning by the prosecutors since he was elected DP chairman in August.
The DP is expected to present a united front to support its head, and Park Sung-joon, a DP spokesman, told reporters at the National Assembly Sunday that party leadership will “accompany the chairman to the Seongnam branch office together.”
Park added that Lee “will not just enter without a message.”
Also on Friday prosecutors, resumed questioning of Kim Man-bae, a key suspect in the Daejang-dong land development scandal, 23 days after his suicide attempt.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office decided to resume investigations with Kim’s health recovery.
Kim was recently released from the hospital after attempting to take his own life in his car in Gyeonggi on Dec. 14.
Kim is the owner of Hwacheon Daeyu, a small asset management company at the center of the Daejang-dong corruption scandal in Seongnam, and is standing trial on charges of bribery, embezzlement and breach of trust.
He was arrested in November last year but released shortly after as his detention period expired.
The Daejang-dong land development scandal centers on allegations that an obscure asset management company, Hwacheon Daeyu, and related individuals reaped exponential profits from the 2015 project, which was during Lee’s time as Seongnam’s mayor.
Trials related to Daejang-dong scandal are scheduled to resume this week for the first time in over a month. Kim, Yoo Dong-kyu, former acting president of the Seongnam Development Corporation, attorney Nam Wook and other key figures are expected to stand trial on Friday.
BY SARAH KIM [email@example.com]