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Lee Myung-bak Cleared of BBK Allegations

Posted December. 06, 2007 08:32,   


The prosecution said Wednesday that they found no evidence that Grand National Party (GNP) candidate Lee Myung-bak was the real owner of auto parts company DAS, a company for which Lee’s brother Lee Sang-eun and brother-in-law Kim Jae-jeong are registered as the largest shareholders.

In addition, prosecutors also said that there was no evidence that Lee holds the equity of the asset management firm BBK, and that Lee colluded with Kim Gyeong-jun’s stock manipulation and embezzlement schemes.

These probe results came out when a special investigation team at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office on Wednesday indicted Kim Gyeong-jun, a former business partner of GNP presidential candidate Lee Myung-bak, on charges of embezzlement, violations of stock exchange laws and document forgery.

Kim is suspected of embezzling 31.9 billion won in funds of Optional Ventures Korea between July 2001 and December 2001, manipulating stock prices of Optional Ventures between December 2000 and November 2001, and forging seven U.S. passports and 19 documents for corporate registration in the U.S. between May 2001 and January 2002.

The prosecution concluded the BBK scandal probe by clearing all the allegations involving GNP candidate Lee, who was accused of collusion with Kim in stock manipulation and violations of civic-servant ethics law.

But the United New Democratic Party and Ji Man-won, a military expert who had brought a criminal complaint against Lee, refused to accept the investigation results, citing that there was “a possibility of mistakes or misunderstanding of the legal principles involved.”

Senior prosecutor Kim Hong-il of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said regarding Lee’s alleged ownership of BBK, “The Korean language contract submitted by Kim turned out to be fake and Kim himself belatedly admitted 100 percent ownership of BBK.”

The prosecutors secured a memo written by Kim in which he claimed 100 percent ownership of BBK stocks. The senior prosecutor also stated concerning Lee’s alleged ownership of DAS, "Although we exhaustively examined accounting documents for the past nine years and the process of DAS` investment in BBK, there was nothing to prove that any money was sent to Lee from DAS.”

The senior prosecutor also added, “The 19 billion won invested in BBK was not from the disposal of Dogok-dong land, but the firm’s funds, and DAS was financially stable with tens of billions of won at that time.”

Prosecutor Kim also revealed that Kim Gyeong-jun confessed that he didn’t collude with Lee in the prosecutors’ probe regarding Lee’s alleged involvement in the stock manipulation scheme.

Concerning the charges by DAS that Kim embezzled 14 out of 19 billion won invested in BBK, the prosecution dismissed the allegations by saying, “The money was invested in stocks or futures according to a valid entrustment agreement, and a significant amount out of the 71.2 billion won investment was returned to DAS. Thus, it is difficult to see that Kim intentionally cheated DAS.”

Meanwhile, lawyer Oh Jae-won defending Kim is expected to announce Kim’s responses to the prosecutions’ announcement in his office in Seoul on December 6. Kim’s sister Erica Kim is also likely to hold a press conference to refute the prosecution probe results in Los Angeles on the same day at 3 a.m. Korean time.

Prior to this, prosecutors said that Kim’s wife Lee Bo-ra and his sister Erica Kim have been put on the wanted criminal list for their collaboration with Kim in his stock manipulation and embezzlement.