Posted May. 09, 2005 23:23,
Lee Gwang-jae, a lawmaker of the ruling Uri Party, get into hot water again due to his alleged involvement in the Russia oil field development scandal.
In response to suspicions concerning his friend, commonly known as Ji, accepting 80 million won in political slush funds, Rep. Lee said yesterday, I have never heard of it. However, government officials in Cheong Wa Dae, mostly the 386 generation, showed worry about his situation after seeing the prosecution searching Lees office.
On the other hand, Lee had a meeting with his assistants yesterday and talked about how to handle the prosecutions confirmation that Jeon Dae-wol, president of a real estate firm, gave 80 million won to Ji.
After this meeting, Lee said, I asked my assistants several times about this fund, and they answered that they have never received any funds from Ji, adding, I even took a look at the bank accounts of my assistants supporting groups. But I couldnt find any receipt of money from Ji.
Lee also asked the prosecution for a thorough investigation on this, saying, I underwent an 85-day special questioning session from the prosecution before the last general election because of the opposition partys insistence that I accepted a 9.6 billion won slush fund from the Sun and Moon Group. At that time, I was suffering serious stress over accepting money from others.
Faced with the prosecutions search of his office, which took place at the same day, Lees aides tacitly acceptedwhen the prosecution visited his office, he was not there.
How has the connection between Lee, Jeon, and Ji been made? Ji, who was a government worker at former KT & G, is now running a restaurant, Hwangsogojip, in Pyeongchang-eup, Pyeongchang-gun, Gangwon province. In 2002, Lee first met Ji and, last year, when Ji was appointed as Lees head of the liaison office in Pyeongchang area for the 2004 general election. Ji is currently a chairman of the committee of Uri Party members in Pyeongchang-gun.
Ji has been Jeons close friend for a long time. About 10 years ago, when Jeon came back to his hometown after finishing a prison termJeon was arrested on a charge of imposturenobody treated him kindly except Ji. Ji often treated Jeon to dinners and gave some money. Thereafter, Jeon made a lot of money thanks to his success in real estate business. Since then, money transactions between two have occurred frequently. Rep. Lee, therefore, views that money transactions are an ordinary practice between them.
For example, when suspicion over Lees accepting 500 million won from Jeon was increasing these days, Ji answered a call regarding this suspicion, saying, I have borrowed or lent up to 100 million won from Jeon, but this is not related to Lee.
However, without revealing information on how 80 million won was collected and where it was spent, it is almost impossible for Lee to escape suspicion over his involvement. Meanwhile, it is being reported that Ji attempted to seek a connection with Lee by using his connections with Ji.
Cheong Wa Dae said it hasnt announced its official position on this issue yet because President Roh Moo-hyun is on a trip to Russia and that this is not directly related to Cheong Wa Dae.
However, 386-generation government officials from Cheong Wa Dae expressed worry over this issue, saying, If this situation continues, Lee may be forced to leave office.