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Seo Jong-woo Accused of $1 Million Currency Exchange Attempt

Seo Jong-woo Accused of $1 Million Currency Exchange Attempt

Posted March. 04, 2004 23:28,   


Prosecutors are investigating Seo Jung-woo, legal adviser of former GNP head Lee Hoe-chang, for allegedly trying to exchange Korean won into U.S. dollars in the amount of $1 million directly after the 2002 presidential elections. The investigations are based on a related witness’s testimony.

The Central Investigation Dept. of the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office on Thursday said, “Chairman Jang from a certain construction company identified as ‘A’ provided the testimony,” adding, “It does not look like Seo actually did change currency.” Jang had passed on 1.5 billion won to Seo on the orders from Daewoo Construction.

In a recent investigation by prosecutors, Jang said that Seo had asked him to name anyone in business who could provide $1 million. Jang testified that he had said $1 million was difficult, although $100,000 might be possible. Prosecutors are looking into whether this attempt to exchange money is related to the GNP or the former GNP head Lee Hoe-chang and are investigating the usages of the funds.

Prosecutors also made a second motion for an arrest warrant made out for GNP member Park Sang-kyu. Prosecutors are putting additional charges on Park as their first request for an arrest warrant was denied. The additional charge added to violation of political funds law is the violation of the law related to the concealment of profits made from a crime. Specific charges of receiving 240 million won from Daewoo Construction and Hi-tech Housing in 2002, and receiving 150 million won (party transfer payments) from GNP when he first entered the party directly before the elections in 2002, have been added to the prosecutors’ list in their second motion for an arrest warrant. Prosecutors say, however, that this does not mean that a penalty is set for other assembly members that moved to other parties. Prosecutors have also summoned Samsung Group Vice Chairman Lee Hak-su for the third time for investigation.

Prosecutors are investigating whether Lee passed on illegal funds to President Roh’s camp during the presidential campaign of 2002, and whether he received a part of the bonds that he had originally given to the GNP.

Prosecutors also conducted an additional investigation on presidential office staff member Yeo Taek-su, whose arrest warrant was denied Thursday morning. Prosecutors are planning on requesting an arrest warrant once again during the week.

Prosecutors indicted MDP member Park Byung-yoon Thursday, for allegedly receiving 100 million won in bonds from Geumho Group directly before the presidential elections and passing the funds on to the MDP.

Wi-Yong Jung Tae-Hoon Lee viyonz@donga.com jefflee@donga.com