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Liberal party attacks chief justice nominee over improprieties

Liberal party attacks chief justice nominee over improprieties

Posted January. 17, 2013 05:35,   


A flurry of suspicions is being raised over Lee Dong-heup, the chief justice nominee of the Constitutional Court, including one alleging that he pressured an insurance company to reimburse him for staying in an upscale hospital room instead of a regular one after being in a car accident.

Rep. Park Hong-geun of the main opposition Democratic United Party, who is on the parliamentary special committee on confirmation hearings, said in a news release, "Nominee Lee has been found to have unjustly transferred the payment of a difference in fees between a regular hospital room and a higher-grade room, an amount that he should have paid, to an insurance company."

According to Park, Lee was hospitalized in October last year due to a traffic accident for 11 days at an upscale hospital room rather than a regular one with his wife, who was in the car with him.

A higher-grade hospital room is designed for one or two patients and a regular room is supposed to hold four or more. According to the terms and conditions for filing a claim, the insurer is not obliged to pay the difference between a higher-end and regular hospital room if the policy subscriber or an accident victim chooses to stay in a higher-grade room.

Park said, “Nominee Lee pressured the insurance company of the person at fault in the accident to pay the difference (2 million won or 1,900 U.S. dollars) plus extra compensation, and the insurer decided to pay it in the name of compensation.” The lawmaker pointed out that regardless of the amount, the case shows Lee as having a prevailing sense of privilege and poor spirit to follow the law and regulations.

Lee’s third daughter, who had no job until she returned from the U.S. in 2009, is also known to have had 18 million won (17,000 dollars) in her bank account before entering college. The amount increased to 77.42 million won (73,100 dollars) over the next 10 years, leading to the suspicion that her father dodged gift transfer taxes.

She might also have received favors when she was hired by a conglomerate. According to the opposition party, the daughter joined her company under the recruiting of experienced workers conducted in April and May 2011. The job announcement suggested that an applicant needed at least four years of relevant work experience or more than two years of experience if he or she had a master’s degree. But the daughter had merely worked for a small architectural company for one year and five months after acquiring her master’s in the U.S. Party lawmaker Park Beom-gye said, “Considering the revocation of a fine levied on the company, collusion is suspected,” adding that Lee revoked the imposition of 11.54 billion won (10.9 million dollars) in fines on the company and others when he was on the Seoul High Court in 2003.

The main opposition party urged Lee to voluntarily withdraw his nomination, saying “He is not eligible to undergo confirmation hearings.”