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Arrest Warrant Issued for Lee Nam-gi

Posted April. 18, 2003 22:13,   


The Financial Investigation Team at the Seoul Prosecution`s Office confirmed allegations that former Chairman of the Fair Trade Commission Lee Nam-gi forced SK Group to donate some 1 billion won to a certain Buddhist temple last year and issued a warrant for his arrest. According to the Prosecutor’s office, Lee influenced SK Group`s Restructuring Manager Kim Chang-kun to make the donation while FTC was investigating whether SK Telecom`s buying KT shares would not violate the current fair competition rules last July.

Lee also urged the donation once again last August through a certain person after which SK Telecom wired 1 billion won to a designated account on September 11.

“SK Group was not able to reject the demand from Lee, so his behavior might possibly be regarded as extortion or blackmail,” an official from the Prosecution said.

Lee has also allegedly though unsuccessfully urged SK Group’s Chairman Choi Tae-won to make such a donation last spring.

The Prosecution said that Kim Chang-kun had promised to make such a donation for Lee on July 12 last year, and then SK Telecom sold off some of its KT shares lowering its shareholding rate to less than 10 percent. And at the end of July, Lee released the announcement saying, “Companies having less than a 10 percent stake would not be investigated by the FTC.”

The Prosecution assumed that SK Group`s promise to make a donation had something to do with the fact that SK Telecom was precluded from the FTC`s investigation process. An official from the Prosecution said, “Some of the donated money was used for rebuilding the temple and the rest still belongs to the temple, leaving no doubts about the use of the money.” He also added, “We will launch an additional investigation into allegations that Lee received some 20,000 dollars in total from SK Group from last May to August since related persons have been in denial.”

Right after the prosecution released the warrant for Lee`s arrest, five monks and some 30 followers of the temple demonstrated in front of the Prosecution’s building with a placard saying, “The Prosecution persecutes Buddhism.”

Myoung-Gun Lee gun43@donga.com