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Seoul City Bribery Case A Hot-Button Issue

Posted July. 19, 2008 09:25,   


The bribery scandal of Seoul Metropolitan City Council has stirred an intense controversy in political circles. According to police, Seoul City Council Chairman Kim Gui-hwan was arrested for bribing 30 other council members from April, asking for their support in the election. Police are now investigating into the possibility of parliamentary lawmakers’ involvement in the case.

The real names of some Grand National Party lawmakers, who allegedly took bribes from Chairman Kim, have been disclosed in political circles. Given that Chairman Kim is a pro-Lee member, differing opinions have emerged depending on the factions between Lee’s and former Chairwoman Park’s loyalists.

With signs suggesting more controversy may be on the way, GNP Secretary General Ahn Kyeong-rul said yesterday, “I will clarify the truth and strictly punish those implicated according to party rules.” His remarks came in the wake of GNP Chairman Park Hee-tae’s apology for the incident on July 17.

The GNP is said to have immediately launched an independent probe into the case, seemingly out of concern that it would be difficult to get rid of the corrupted party image if the police investigation finds it was involved in the scheme.

Meanwhile, those who are allegedly involved in the case have denied or rejected the allegations, saying, “The money was legitimate financial support, not an illegal bribe.” A senior member said, “Chairman Kim visited me with a check near the general election, but I refused to accept it. He later sent me 5 million won in my bank account. He reported the money as a political financial fund, which I think causes no accounting problem.”

A lawmaker said, “I received 5 million won from him and kept the receipt.” Another lawmaker said, “I don’t know Chairman Kim well, but I found belatedly that I took 1 million won from him and reported it as financial support.”

On another lawmaker an official said, “I remember he received 2 million won and I am trying to find out how.” Other lawmakers say they received no money.

A party source said, “Chairman Kim used to employ checks so it will be easy for the investigation authority to track the checks, if those at receiving ends illegally used the money.”

On the other hand, the Democratic Party intensified its offensive on the GNP. DP Chairman Chung Se-kyun at the Supreme Council Meeting Friday said, “In the face of a shameful incident that taints political circles with corruption and illegal bribes, police should investigate the case thoroughly,” urging that, “ implicated lawmakers should resign and a similar case in the Busan City Council should be fully investigated.”

Another senior DP member Kim Min-seok urged Han Jin-hee, the head of the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, to “. . . extend the investigation into not just the bribed lawmakers but also those who received cash from Kim.”

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