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‘New Town Meeting Minutes’ Secured

Posted July. 19, 2007 04:52,   


It is alleged that Hongeun Planning, an affiliate of Das, of which Lee Myung-bak’s eldest brother Lee Sang-eun and his brother-in-law Kim Jae-jeong are major shareholders, received preferential treatment in the process of developing high-rise residential-commercial complexes. On July 18, it was said that the prosecutors had secured minutes of a meeting for designating new towns and are looking into them to determine whether or not Hongeun Planning received special favors.

However, an important reference, Lee Sang-eun, left the country for Japan last week despite the prosecutors’ request that he cooperate with the investigation, adding difficulty to the case.

What was written in the new town meeting minutes-

In September of 2003, Seoul city deliberated on candidate sites for a new town by convening the ‘Local Balanced Development Committee’ (LBDC) with participation of related officials and private sector experts. LBDC toured candidate sites and called a hearing in which a new town location would be designated.

The prosecution is said to have secured oral statements from new town project insiders, where the project leader, a Mr. Kim, said, “Regarding the issue of designating Gangdong-gu and eastern Seoul as new towns, let’s let mayor Lee decide.”

Only two months later Seoul city named 12 areas in Gangdong-gu as new towns. And the decided areas are where Hongeun Planning bought plots of land. The prosecutors have taken note of this.

Not only did the Prosecutors’ Office obtain meeting minutes, but are also studying the seriousness of the oral statements by summoning the related parties. On July 17 and 18, the investigators subpoenaed three LBDC members for investigation.

Regarding this the then project leader, Kim, said, “The minutes in question were not formally taken. And when we said ‘let’s let mayor Lee decide,’ we were talking about the new town in Geoyeo-dong of Songpa-gu, not the one in Cheonho-dong of Gangdong-gu.”

Prosecutors at a loss with uncooperative suspects-

Investigators are at a loss after finding Lee Sang-eun had gone to Japan.

Lee is said to have gone to Japan for medical treatment and can’t be reached, which will draw out the investigation.

Lee is co-buyer of a plot of land in Dogok-dong. Former mayor Lee is believed to be the actual owner of the land because he bought the land under someone else’s name. This is the reason why Mayor Lee’s brother is a key reference in shedding much-needed light on the case.

Prosecutor Kim Hong-il of the Seoul Central Prosecutors’ Office said “The goal of the investigators is to get to the bottom of the case ASAP. But it is very difficult to continue our investigation because the reference is not being cooperative and has avoided a summons. According to Article 221 of the code of criminal procedure, we plan to request the court of law to question the witness.

For witnesses or references who have difficulty in coming to the Prosecutors’ Office, the prosecutors will send investigators to them. They are considering banning other key references from leaving the country.

needjung@donga.com dnsp@donga.com