Prosecutors said Friday they will look into allegations that potential presidential hopeful Ahn Cheol-soo made tens of millions of dollars in illicit profits by converting bonds of his anti-virus software firm into shares at a below-market price.
Rep. Kang Yong-seok, an independent, filed the allegations with the Seoul Central Prosecutors' Office, claiming that Ahn is believed to have garnered a total of up to 70 billion won ($62 million) in ill-gotten profits.
Kang claimed that Ahn converted 1.86 million bonds with warrants (BW) of his software firm Ahnlab in October 2000 at one-twenty-fifth of the market price, and the transaction constitutes a violation of tax and other laws.
Prosecution officials said that the case has been assigned to an investigation department in accordance with a customary procedure for such cases, and investigators will look into and try to verify the claims.
Ahnlab officials denied the allegations, saying the transaction followed the state financial regulator's guidelines and was approved by shareholders in a general meeting. They also said the lawmaker is confused about details of the transaction.
The lawyer-turned-lawmaker has often raised suits against high-profile politicians and presidential hopefuls in the liberal camp over a variety of matters ranging from mandatory military service to financial transactions.
Ahn, who currently teaches at the prestigious Seoul National University, has been considered a surging presidential hopeful for the December presidential race, in part for his upright and clean image.
The 50-year-old last week unveiled a plan about a proposed charity foundation, which will be funded by his own personal donation, half of his 37 percent stake in the Ahnlab. (Yonhap)