A former aide to President Roh Moo-hyun was approached by a Samsung executive three years ago and
offered a bribe, a civic group said Monday.
"Lee Yong-chul, former Secretary to the President for Legal Affairs, has confessed to us that he received a shopping bag with 5 million won (US$5,450) in it on Jan. 26, 2004," said People's Action against Illegal Activities of Samsung Chariman Lee Kun-hee (People's Action) at a press conference, urging the legislature to pass a bill which would appoint an independent counsel to probe South Korea's largest company and exporter as soon as possible.
The revelation came after a corruption scandal broke surrounding Samsung group and its chairman Lee Kun-hee.
A former chief lawyer of Samsung, Kim Yong-chul publicly claimed earlier this month that Samsung group systematically created slush funds by manipulating financial records and that all the executive board members of Samsung affiliates were entrusted with illegal lobbying.
People's Action said the bribe was offered by Lee Kyung-hoon, a former in-house lawyer for Samsung Electronics, who worked for Samsung from 1995 to 2004. He is currently known to be in the United States, the group said.
"It was when the investigation of a slush fund scandal related to the 2002 presidential election was at its height. I was outraged as Samsung was right at the center of the scandal," the former secretary to president, who was then in charge of anti-corruption operations in the presidential office, was quoted as saying. "I said to my wife, who was with me when I opened the bag, 'Samsung must be very bold or very stupid.' I met the Samsung lawyer a month later and gave it back."
For years, Samsung and the Lee family have been linked to various corruption scandals for which several low-level officials were convicted. Not only was Samsung mired in a slush fund scandal related to the presidential election in 2002, but it was accused in 2005 of improper stock transactions by the chairman to his only
son, Lee Jae-yong.
The civic group also unveiled evidence to reporters, including photographs of the bribe, taken by the former presidential aide before he returned the money.