Lee Cleared by 2nd Inquiry

    February 22, 2008 07:11

    Special counsel Chung Ho-young announces results of his investigation of president-elect Lee Myung-bak in his office in Yeoksam-dong, Seoul on Thursday morning./Newsis
    Special counsel Chung Ho-young on Thursday cleared president-elect Lee Myung-bak of all allegations under investigation by his team, from corruption to running an investment scam. This is the second time an inquiry has cleared Lee over what became known as the BBK scandal.

    Investigators concluded that a plot of land in Dogok-dong, Seoul was indeed owned by the president elect's eldest brother Lee Sang-eun and not held in proxy for Lee, who as a lawmaker at the time would have been guilty of asset concealment. In a criminal probe last year, prosecutors concluded the land was probably owned by “a third party” but did not say who that might be.

    The special counsel concluded Lee Sang-eun had enough money to buy the land at the time, considering his business performance in 1983 and 1985, including his company's milk production and the number of milk cows he raised. “We found no records proving that a third person provided funds for the land purchase,” Chung added.

    Chung dismissed allegations that prosecutors coaxed and intimidated Kim Kyung-joon, Lee’s former business partner who ran the boiler-room firm BBK, to testify favorably to Lee. "We investigated Kim's two attorneys, prosecutors, and audio- and video-taped depositions and interrogation records,” he said. “But there was no evidence that he was coaxed or intimidated by prosecutors. We presume he may have misunderstood something, or falsified or exaggerated his testimony."

    He said his team concluded that Lee “was not involved in the founding of BBK, based on our judgment of testimonies by Oh Yeong-seok, Kim's business partner in BBK who is currently in Dubai, the outcome of the FBI's investigation of his overseas bank accounts, and the results of Korean prosecutors' investigation. Kim alone was involved in the 2001 investment scam and embezzlement of corporate funds." Chung added Kim himself admitted being the sole owner of the fraudulent investment firm.

    On suspicions about a privileged sale of Digital Media City to a group of investors in Sangam-dong, Seoul, the special counsel concluded there was no evidence that either Lee or Seoul city government officials were involved in any illegal activities.

    Chung will disband his investigation team after reporting results of his investigation to President Roh Moo-hyun on Friday.

    With the special counsel wrapping up his investigation now, the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office will resume its own investigation of Kim over the scam and rumors that someone conspired to arrange his hasty extradition from the U.S. The ruling camp at the time hoped that the investigation into Lee's past would give them an advantage in the presidential election.

    • Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com
    Previous Next
    All Headlines Back to Top