The amount of malpractice charges applied on Kim Man-bae, a major shareholder of Hwacheon Daeyu, and Yoo Dong-gyu, the former acting president of Seongnam Development Corporation (SDC), stands at about 110 billion won. When designing the structure of profit sharing, Yoo removed a clause limiting the amount of profits that Hwacheon Daeyu could claim, ignoring the advice from the working-level officials from the corporation. Calculations show that this cost SDC around 116.3 billion won in profit. The warrant states Kim Man-bae promised to give Yoo 25% of the development profits (70 billion won). The prosecution is of a view that the two are accomplices in malpractice and bribery. But the crux is whether the reach of this scandal is confined to the two or more.
It is the Seongnam city government that ultimately gave a greenlight to the private-public partnership of Daejang-dong project. The SDC is merely a vehicle that executed the orders from the municipal government. While Yoo was at the helm of the corporation, it is far from commonsensical that he manipulated a project worth 1.5 trillion won at his whim. In fact, it was Gyeonggi Governor Lee Jae-myung himself that confessed to “planning the project” on his own. According to the articles of association at SDC, major agendas such as selection of private operators or profits distribution must be reported to the city government of Seongnam. It is highly likely that a set of reports or instructions might still be left in the form of documents, memos, or electronic approvals. But the prosecution is not even conducting a search and seizure on the office of Seongnam City.
When asked if “Lee is a target of investigation” Thursday, Lee Jeong-soo, the head of Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, said the governor is included in the scope of investigation, adding that the office is considering all options including summoning or search and seizure of a particular person or a particular place. Given the patterns of late, however, it is questionable whether the prosecution has any willingness to uncover the truth.
Kim Man-bae, who tried to gloss over his mentioning of “him” in his recordings, is now denying the existence of “him” and refusing to remember making such comment at all. Neither the Gyeonggi provincial government nor the Seongnam city government are cooperating to submit files for the government inspection. Without uncovering who is “above” or identifying who is “he” from Kim’s recordings, the scandal of Daejang-dong project can never be solved.