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Investigators Look to Expand JU Probe

Posted December. 23, 2006 06:38,   


Investigators at the Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors’ Office said on December 22 that they are reviewing whether they can prosecute more businessmen, including family members of Lee Jae-sun, a former Cheong Wa Dae secretary. They have been accused of taking money from the JU Network, the country’s largest network marketing company.

Initially, prosecutors said in an announcement of interim investigation results that the prosecution had cleared the officials. But they found reason to take legal action against some high-ranking officials who had made unlawful pressures in return for special payments for malfeasance in office.

Investigators also are looking into the case after finding out that besides five family members of a former Cheong Wa Dae secretary Lee, many high profile ranking officials, including Kang, a wife of the director of presidential guards at Cheong Wa Dae, had taken unlawful money for favors.

Only 0.2% got bonuses from JU after business suspension-

The prosecutors said in an announcement of interim investigation results, “Special payments had been given after the suspension of JU sales under the direction or previous of permission of Ju Su-do, the president of JU group.” The investigators also said, “We are reviewing very carefully whether the process of giving and taking the payments is legitimate or not.”

As for ‘giving money to some people without reasonable grounds,’ the investigators want to make an additional indictment of JU for misappropriation. This means the prosecutors had admitted that special payment was given for family member of former secretary Lee.

The prosecutors confirmed that six of Lee’s family members, who worked as JU sales agents, invested 1.3 billion won and received 1.1 billion won in payments from the group. After December of last year, they also got 10 million for payment of sales.

Kang took 10 million in the same way, and the prosecutors summoned Kang for questioning.

However, the people who could receive money from group are only two hundred, 0.2% of whom had been cheated by JU.

High-ranking officials suspected of taking bribes from JU group have been cleared of all charges-

Prosecutors cleared former Cheong Wa Dae secretary Lee, saying, “We have no legal grounds to prosecute Lee. We could not confirm he had involved himself in the sales of JU group unlawfully nor was he bribed by Ju Su-do.” His brother-in-law and a senior superintendent general at the National Police Agency identified as Park were also cleared. They were accused of money transactions of 50 million won with Han Eui-sang, one of Ju’s aides.

However, the prosecutors say that “it did not come to a conclusion” about some crucial suspicions such as whether they would prosecute those who got special payment and whether there are politicians who got lobbied from the JU group.

For the announcement of investigation results which the prosecutors made, even though all the suspicions were not settled, some people are saying it was just ‘protecting their own family’ to prevent the suspicion from spilling over to prosecutors in office and their families.

For this, Lee Chun-seong, the senior prosecutor at the Eastern Seoul District Prosecutors’ Office, explained that “the announcement was somewhat late after our careful probe about where the funds had come from, and what for it had been used.”

Prosecutors would make investigations for suspicions lobbying of the JU group and development of West Sea Oil Filed, and the close relationship with the Fair Trade Commission. Prosecutor Lee said, “We will make complete investigation about former executives of Fair Trade Commission had taken in unlawful multi-level network marketing company, thus causing serous damage to many people.”

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