By Kim Rahn
President-elect Lee Myung-bak's family members will be summoned this week by an independent counsel investigating Lee's alleged land speculation and secret accumulation of wealth.
An investigator at the counsel led by special prosecutor Chung Ho-young said Sunday that key figures will be questioned about the allegations. They include Lee's brother Sang-eun and his brother-in-law Kim Jae-jung.
The two purchased land in Dogok-dong in southern Seoul in 1985 and reaped huge profits by reselling it to POSCO 10 years later. Allegations have been made that Lee, the former Hyundai Engineering and Construction CEO, was the actual owner of the land and bought it under the family members' names. It was also alleged that DAS, a company owned by the two, was also Lee's.
If the allegations are proven true, the President-elect will be in violation of the Public Officials Law, which obliges them to report their property.
Last August, the prosecution investigated the case and came to the ambiguous conclusion that ``the land owned by Lee Sang-eun seems to have been owned by a third person.'' It did not specify who the third party was. The brother claimed at that time that he was the owner of the land.
Besides the brother and brother-in-law, the prosecution will question three other people who allegedly managed property through the alleged accumulation of wealth under false names.
The counsel also recently managed to contact the previous owner of the land ― identified as a Jeon ― and asked him to face questions, the investigator said.
Former POSCO Chairman Kim Mahn-je, who is staying in the U.S., has said he will return home early next month to cooperate in the investigation. Kim earlier said he was aware that Lee was the real owner of the land. He is also suspected of having made POSCO buy the land at a high price at Lee's request.
In a related probe into Lee's alleged stock price manipulation with his former business partner Kim Kyung-joon, the counsel questioned Kim's former lawyer Oh Jae-won Saturday over whether prosecutors tried to offer a plea bargain to Kim during their investigation.
Kim claimed earlier that prosecutors tried to persuade him to cover up Lee's involvement by offering him a three-year jail term and threatening him that otherwise he would face 10 years in prison.