July 17, 2017 09:59
Cheong Wa Dae officials said Friday they have discovered more than 300 documents from the Park Geun-hye era, including a potential paper trail in the bribery case against Park and new Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong.
Presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun said the documents dated from June 2014 to June 2015 were found in a filing cabinet in the former office of the presidential secretary for civil affairs.
They relate to the nomination of ministers and artists blacklisted for their progressive political views, but the bulk focuses on ways to use the voting rights of state-run National Pension Service, a major shareholder, to help Lee secure management control of the Samsung Group after his father fell into a coma.
Cheong Wa Dae said the documents were found in early July but initially only shared between a few high-ranking officials.
President Moon Jae-in was briefed about the discovery before he left for the G20 Summit in Germany on July 5. A Cheong Wa Dae official said, "After discovering the documents on July 3, we needed time for legal experts to review them due to their sensitive nature. We also had to hold the announcement because key Cheong Wa Dae staff were abroad" with Moon.
Opposition lawmakers accused Cheong Wa Dae of ulterior motives in making the discovery public now Lee's trial is nearing its end, accusing it of trying to influence the sentence.
Cheong Wa Dae officials said they revealed only a portion of the documents. One contains what appear to be instructions on ways to help Lee secure management control of the conglomerate.
Lee is on trial for bribing Park and her secret confidante Choi Soon-sil to the tune of billions of won to help him secure control of the publicly traded conglomerate by underhand means.
Notes on the document read, "assess what Samsung needs as it faces transfer of management control, offer what help is needed..." and "government able to exercise significant influence to help resolve tasks facing Samsung."
But one lawyer who used to be a state prosecutor said, "The content of the memos have already been included in indictments by prosecutors and the independent counsel, so no huge repercussions are expected." But the lawyer added they can be used as evidence to support charges that the presidential office rolled up its sleeves to smooth Lee's path.
The Lee family have only small minority stakes in the Samsung Group, but due to its Byzantine holding structure they retain almost total control.
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