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GNP Presidential Candidates Attend Hearing

Posted July. 20, 2007 03:12,   


Lee Myung-bak, former Seoul mayor, said yesterday, “I don’t want to pass my fortune on to my children.” At the hearing for Grand National Party (GNP) presidential hopefuls held at Kim Koo Museum Library in Yongsan, Lee said in his closing remarks, “I want to help people in need,” hinting that he will donate some of his wealth to society.

Park Geun-hye, former chief of the GNP, said at the hearing, “I saw first hand what my father did to revive the economy and what a president should do. I am confident that I am fully capable of turning the economy around.” When asked about the possible wrongdoings of the late reverend Choi Tae-min, she argued, “That is an unfounded accusation.”

At the hearing, which was held for the first time in the history of the GNP, Ahn Kang-min and 14 other screening commissioners asked many sharp questions to candidates they had studied for around two months prior to the hearing. The hearing lasted longer than the three hour scheduled duration because an hour and 17 minutes, and 35 minutes more for Lee and Park were spent, respectively.

The screening commissioners asked Lee questions related to suspicions over dodging compulsory military service, property management under his relatives’ names, his involvement in stock manipulation of the investment company BBK, his relationship with Erica Kim, the special treatment provided to new towns of Cheonho-dong and Eunpyeong, the flight of an offender related to the Kim Yoo-chan case, and his property speculation in Seocho-dong. When asked about the actual owner of the properties registered under his relatives’ names, he said “They do not belong to me.”

To one of the commissioners’ questions which was, “If your respiratory disorder was so severe that you couldn’t serve in the military, how could you drink all night when you got a job at Hyundai Engineering and Construction Co., Ltd?,” Lee answered, “Under the circumstances I was under, I had to do what I could do even though that could have meant that I would die tomorrow, because then-CEO Chung Ju-yeong said, ‘If you can’t catch up, just resign.’”

In regard to his involvement in stock manipulation of the investment company BBK, Lee said, “Prosecutors and the Financial Supervisory Service, after they conducted investigations, found no link between the case and me, and why do you keep bringing this up?”

In relation to suspicions over his real estate property trading deals, Lee said, “I purchased the land with a special bonus I received from the late CEO Chung at Hyundai.”

When asked about suspicions over preferential treatment received by Hongeun Planning, an affiliate of DAS, in the process of developing high-rise residential-commercial complexes near the Cheonho-dong new town, and the areas Lee’s relatives own land were designated as Eunpyeong new town Lee said, “There was no preferential treatment and the process followed due process.”

Park faced questions on suspicions of receiving 0.9 billion won from then officer of commander Jeon Du-whan, how she came to own a house in Seongbuk-dong, her relationship with the late reverend Choi Tae-min, wrongdoings during her tenure at the Yook-Young Foundation, Yeungnam University, and Jeongsu Scholarship Foundation, and whether she received 200 million won for returning to her party. When asked by a commissioner, “Right after the president Park Jeong-hui was assassinated on October 26 in 1979, then commander Jeon Du-whan handed you 900 million won; did you return 300 million to him for investigating the case?” Park said, “I received 600 million won and I took it because I thought it was money that belonged to my father.”

When asked about her house in Seongbuk-dong that was built with the help of Shin Gi-soo, then CEO of Keangnam Enterprise in 1981, Park said, “My house in Shindang-dong was small, so I accepted Shin’s proposal.”

When Park was playing the role of the First Lady, there were speculations that the late reverend Choi Tae-min was involved in many wrongdoings, and on this matter, she said, “The Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office investigated the case thoroughly and it found nothing wrong. The speculations turned out to be unfounded. Some people even say that there is a child between me and Choi. If you bring the child, I can prove that it’s not my child through DNA testing.”

On the allegations over forced donation, Park said, “I believe the Jeongsu Scholarship Foundation has related documents to prove that it’s not true.” She said about speculations over tax evasion committed when she was a board member, “It happened due to a staff mistake, and I paid the tax all at once later.”