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Scandals Still Following Judge Lee

Posted January. 09, 2007 03:01,   


In response to a recent report on allegations that Chief Justice Lee Yong-hun handed money amounting from one million won to three million won to ten judges, including Cho Gwan-haeng, former superintendent judge of Seoul High Court, who was prosecuted for being involved in judicial corruption, when Lee worked as a lawyer, Byeon Hyeon-cheol, a information officer of the Supreme Court, announced yesterday that Lee said, “I didn’t give money to them.” According to the report, the money was intended to cover a lawyers’ dinner and farewell party.

In fact, one newspaper reported yesterday, “Last June when the prosecution started tracking Cho’s bank accounts, Cho demanded a stop to the investigation, saying, “If my bank accounts are checked, the chief justice’s name will appear,” to the prosecution and moral inspection office of Supreme Court.

In regard to this, a source from Supreme Court said, “Lee has never paid anything on judges’ accounts. We have finished investigation on this already. About allegation that Cho threatened to stop the investigation, the source also said that, “It is hardly acceptable to us.”

Suspicion is still haunting Chief Justice Lee. This is the third time that suspicions on work that Lee carried out as a lawyer arose.

Park Se-hwan, a member of the main opposition Grand National Party who worked as a public prosecutor before being elected, stated at Legislation and Judiciary Committee of National Assembly that Chief Justice Lee might have had a close relation with Lone Star, a heavy stockholder of Korea Exchange Bank (KEB) then, saying, “Last June when Lee worked as a lawyer, he represented KEB on a tens of billions of won lawsuit that the KEB filed against Geukdong City Gas.”

Park also added that it has something to do with Supreme Court’s rejection of issuing warrants to arrest head of Lone Star Advisors Korea. The Central Investigation Department of Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office asked for four times but all of them were rejected.

As a response, Supreme Court refuted Park’s argument and released a copy of a contract signed by Lee and KEB at that time, saying, “Lee quit the work when he was appointed as chief justice and there was no contingent fee at all.”

While the suspicion on misdemeanors which Lee might have committed while working as a lawyer seemed to subside after this scandal, the New Year brought another complaint against Lee as it was revealed that Lee didn’t pay part of his income tax.

Even though Lee volunteered to hold a press conference to explain the fact and admitted his fault, saying that, “Tax accountants made a mistake,” another suspicion that Lee might have wrongly dealt with the case of Goldman Sachs, the U.S. stock company, accepting the legal management of Jinro, is arising again.

In last November when the case about Goldman Sachs’ legal management of Jinro provoked controversy, Lee said to, explaining alleged accusation against him about Supreme Court’s rejection of arrest warrant to head of Lone Star Advisors Korea, a newspaper, that, “I think there is a group of people who slandered me.”

Even though Lee denied his words the following day, the Supreme Court seems to be convinced that there is a group of people who produced a series of rumors to do harm to Lee.

In fact, this assumption gains confidence because it is almost impossible to release such stories without cooperation from organizations which have information about the chief justice.

The latest allegation that Lee handed money to judges also further added to the suspicions.

Lee In-gyu, prosecutor of Seoul Central District Court, who was in charge of the investigation on this case, said yesterday that, “We tracked checks that Cho spent, but we haven’t found anything related to Chief Justice Lee,” adding, “In addition to this, the prosecution has never received a call from Supreme Court to interrupt the investigation.”

However, the prosecutor later added that, “I was informed that at that time, advocate of Cho visited the prosecutor’s office and asked for favor, saying that Cho has a close relation with Chief Justice and was given money from Lee.”

Meanwhile, Chief Justice Lee expressed his discomfort about these cases yesterday, saying, “I want it to stop,” to reporters.