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Prosecutors Looking into Political Donation Scandal in Earnest

Prosecutors Looking into Political Donation Scandal in Earnest

Posted March. 14, 2003 22:39,   


The Special Investigative Division One of the Seoul District Public Prosecutions` Office has launched an in-depth probe into the political donation scandal involving former high-ranking police officer Lee Suk-hee, and Lee Hui-sung, younger brother of former Grand National Party leader Lee Hui-chang.

Lee Suk-hee is wanted by authorities for his role in illegally raising a political fund for the party. He reportedly waived his legal rights during his deportation hearing in the United States, and is expected to arrive in Korea on March 19. In addition, the DA`s Office has extended its ban on a number of other individuals involved in the case, along with the two Lees, from leaving the country.

The DA`s Office plans to arrest and hold without bail Lee Suk-hee right after he arrives, and call in all individuals for questioning suspected of having played a role in the scandal, including former Rep. Suh Sang-mok of the Grand National Party.

"Once Lee is brought from the United States, we will question him on the details of the case,” a prosecutor familiar with the case confirmed. “We want to know who directed him to raise the funds, and how many corporations he coerced. If necessary, we will bring in all the people and entities involved."

Lee and others are suspected of having illegally solicited, just prior to the presidential election in 1997, 17 billion won for the Grand National Party from 24 South Korean companies including Hyundai, SK and Daewoo.

The prosecution conducted an intensive investigation into the case from August to December of 1998, and arrested and indicted five former high-ranking government officials including former Presidential Aide Bae Jae-wook, National Tax Service Head Lim Chae-joo.

Lee Suk-hee fled at the start of the investigation and has been in the United States since then as a fugitive.

Tae-Hoon Lee jefflee@donga.com