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Police, prosecutors clash over probe rights in corruption case

Police, prosecutors clash over probe rights in corruption case

Posted November. 16, 2012 02:30,   


An independent counsel requested an arrest warrant Thursday for Kim Kwang-joon, a former senior official at the Seoul Prosecutors` Office, on the charge of taking a large sum of money from Ryu Soon-tae, president of Eugene Group’s affiliate EM Media, and people close to Cho Hee-pal, a scammer related to the country`s biggest pyramid scheme. Kim was indicted for accepting and brokering bribes.

Prosecutors said most of the 590 million won (542,600 U.S. dollars) that Kim received must have been bribes, based on materials from Kim’s probe into corruption in Eugene Group in 2008. He is suspected of taking bribes in exchange for covering up irregularities committed by the group, such as bid rigging for a trustee operator of Lotto and creating a slush fund.

Kim is also known to have taken tens of thousands of dollars after illegally intervening in an alleged threat by a former intelligence agent and his wife. The amount Kim received from close aides to mastermind the pyramid scheme as well as travel expenses and gambling money he took from an executive of Korea Telecom Freetel, or KTF, are also included in the allegations.

In the meantime, police also got no response from the prosecutors` office for two days on its request for a search and seizure warrant on Kim’s bank accounts. This is the first warrant applied for by police since they declared a simultaneous investigation with prosecutors. A police source said Thursday, “We provided the Seoul Prosecutors` Office with ample materials backing the charges, so why a warrant has not been issued yet is hard to understand. The Daegu Prosecutors` Office issued a warrant right away after the same request was made on this case.” A prosecutor responded by saying, “The materials we received lack facts and reasons for the warrant.”

Police and prosecutors have been unable to find common ground on Kim’s bribery case. Both sides held a two-hour meeting Thursday on a solution to their uncomfortable relations, but merely reconfirmed the differences in their views. They discussed on how to divide the areas of investigation on this case and prevent a recurrence of a similar interception of investigation cases.

Police, however, blasted the prosecutorial investigation into the case as stealing and suggested that both sides post the date of initiating an investigation on a criminal justice system to grant investigative rights to the party that initiated the case. To this, prosecutors said, “There are many cases that prosecutors must take the lead in regardless of when the initiation of a probe began, and the present system is inadequate to provide real-time cross-checking.”

On the police suggestion that they work under the lead of the Seoul Prosecutors` Office on the charges that the special counsel does not handle, the prosecutorial side said, “Giving an answer right away is difficult because we have not talked to the special counsel on the suggestion.” The two sides decided to hold another meeting early next week, but are unlikely to compromise on any issue.