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Aide to ex-president questioned in fund raising scandal

Posted January. 19, 2001 19:46,   


Lee Won-Jong, senior political secretary to former president Kim Young-Sam, was abruptly and temporarily detained by officials from the Central Investigation Bureau of the Supreme Prosecutor's Office around noon on Friday. He faced questioning in connection with the alleged illegal fund raising from the budget of the state intelligence service at the time of general elections in 1996. He was taken "voluntarily" from an unidentified location in Seoul to answer questions on his possible role in raising and distributing the funds.

If charges laid against him were to be found valid, Lee would be taken into formal custody. As things now stand, he is likely to be released after the initial inquiry as were ex-director of the Agency for National Security Planning (NSP) Kwon Young-Hae, who faced a similar experience this week.

The summoning of Lee on the heels of Kwon's questioning when Kim Ki-Sup, former deputy NSP director in charge of operations, is about to be prosecuted on January 22nd has given rise to speculation that the prosecution probe of the campaign funding scandal may soon be coming to an end.

Prosecutors believe that the former aide to ex-president Kim must have known about the generation and payment of the slush funds for electioneering because more than 100 billion won of the intelligence agency funds were diverted to the then New Korea Party (NKP) and the Democratic Liberal Party. He was interrogated with reference to the material and testimonials collected so far.

Prosecutors were particularly interested in ascertaining details of a few meetings Lee was supposed to have had with Rep. Kang Sam-Jae, who was secretary general and campaign headquarters director of the NKP during the 1996 elections. They asked him about the circumstances of those meetings and the conversations the two had during the encounters.