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Secretary of Prime Minister Arrested

Posted July. 30, 2003 21:41,   


The probe into the lobbying of senior officials from the government is making rapid progress as Tak Byoung-oh, the prime minister`s secretary, and Kim Young-ryul, ex-president of The Seoul Economic Daily, were arrested for impropriety in the construction of Good Morning City, a large shopping mall.

The secretary of the prime minister, arrested on July 30 over suspicion of accepting bribes during the planning of construction, is under investigation by Seoul District Court. The prosecution is set to seek an arrest warrant as soon as they can.

The prosecution also arrested the ex-president of The Seoul Economic Daily and his wife on July 29, who allegedly received a large sum of money by helping the owner of Good Morning City gain access to bank loans.

Consequently, the investigation into this case, which has been in a lull ever since MDP leader Chyung Dai-chul was issued a summons by the prosecutor`s office, is likely to expand to other high-ranking officials in the government, financial institutions, and media.

Tak, who used to work for the Seoul Metropolitan Government, allegedly received 10 million won from Yoon Chang-ryul, president of Good Morning City, in May and June last year in an attempt to help the construction plan pass the review by the city government, according to the prosecution.

The prosecution is looking into suspicions that Song Byoung-kwon, the company`s ex-lobbyist for the Seoul government, delivered Yoon`s money to Tak.

Tak Byoung-oh entered politics through the administrative exam in 1973. He worked in the Seoul Metropolitan Government before serving as the prime minister`s secretary since March this year.

Kim Young-ryul and his wife are suspected of receiving a large amount of money to lobby banks in an attempt to help Yoon`s company arrange loans in 2001, the prosecution added.

The prosecution is reportedly investigating the exact amount of money and what it was used for, and is poised to seek a warrant for arrest as early as July 31.

Mr. Kim worked for The Hankook Ilbo before becoming president of The Seoul Economic Daily in 1993. In the past, Mr. Kim was suspected of tax evasion in relation to the lobbying activities of Yoon Tae-sik, a large shareholder of the venture company Pass21. The ex-president was indicted in February last year, sentenced to probation at the first trial, and later released. He is currently appealing to a higher court.

Meanwhile, in response to media reports that if the arrest motion for the MDP leader is rejected in the National Assembly, there are plans to indict him without custody. The prosecution made clear that its future course of action in connection with this case had not yet been decided, but that when it had decided it would seek an arrest warrant one more time.

Prime Minister Goh Kun accepted Tak`s resignation before the embattled former secretary of the prime minister appeared at the prosecutor`s office.

Tae-Hoon Lee Jin-Young Hwang jefflee@donga.com buddy@donga.com