November 23, 2007 09:31
The sister of Kim Kyung-joon, the dubious businessman at the heart of the so-called BBK scandal, on Thursday accused Grand National Party candidate Lee Myung-bak, of "lying" about his involvement. Erica Kim resurfaced after failing to turn up at a press conference the previous day, where she had seemed to promise to present documents incriminating Lee. Like Kim's wife Lee Bo-ra, who instead gave the press conference the previous day, Erica Kim attacked the GNP candidate. The GNP immediately denied her allegation, saying the Kims' public pronouncements were "a scam staged by a family of swindlers."
Kim stuck to the family's claim that there are four "under-the-table" contracts proving that Lee owned BBK. She said one of the four contracts "is written in Korean and proves that Lee himself owned BBK. It reads in part, 'BBK stocks owned by Lee Myung-bak.' This statement on the contract is affixed with candidate Lee's own personal seal." Asked why she failed to present such important documents to the court before, she said, "For three-and-a-half years, we've fought in court only over the matters related to Optional Ventures," the company whose stock price Kim is accused of manipulating. "It was not an extradition case related to Lee Myung-bak."
But GNP lawmaker Hong Joon-pyo dismissed the claims. "As Erica Kim said herself during the interview, if such documents really exist, they are important data that can show whether Kim Kyung-joon was a mere accomplice in the crime or the sole offender. The mere fact that she has introduced the documents only now clearly means that either the documents had been rejected by the U.S. court before for lack of trustworthiness or are newly forged." As for Lee Myung-bak's personal seal, which in Korea is widely used in lieu of a signature on certain documents, his campaign committee spokesman Park Hyung-joon said, "At the time, the seal was kept by Kim Kyung-joon." Park also implied the documents may be forged, saying, "We have suspicions about the fact that the affixed seal on such an important contract was not accompanied by a signature."
Lee's associates have said they turned down Kim Kyung-joon's suggestion of talks on two to three occasions in 2006 and 2007, concluding that it would be irrational to talk to a criminal. But Erica Kim on Thursday denied the family ever sought talks, adding it was Lee's side that proposed the talks first. "According to American legal procedure, the two sides are supposed to meet. Lee Myung-bak once suggested to us that we strike a deal. His associates made a specific suggestion for a deal, saying they could solve my brother's case. We sat down and talked about this. So we actually did say that. Except for that, we've never done anything they are claiming we did." Rep. Hong denied the claim. "As we said before, they proposed talks three times. Their claim that we suggested talks first is ridiculous."
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