Broker‘s planner sheds light on Picity scandal
A planner for a businessman who allegedly delivered money to President Lee Myung-bak’s close aides after receiving it from real estate developer Picity is one of the vital clues in an investigation into the bribery scandal, prosecutors said Friday.
The planner, secured during a raid on the house of the businessman, Lee Dong-yul, shows who he met and when in 2007 and 2008. Prosecutors found he maintained close relationships with some 10 people, including former Korea Communications Commission Chairman Choi See-joong and former Knowledge Economy Vice Minister Park Young-june.
It also shows that he once met with President Lee’s elder brother Lee Sang-deuk, a six-term lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party. That means Lee Sang-deuk might also have taken money from the broker, known as having attended the same middle school as Choi but in a lower grade.
The names of several officials at the Seoul Metropolitan Government and the ward office in Seocho-gu, who oversaw the firm’s construction projects in southern Seoul, were also written.
“The evidence supports the allegations that Picity bribed a number of officials for its business through the broker,” a prosecutor told reporters.
The remark indicates that the prosecution might issue a summons for the President’s 75-year-old brother, sometimes referred to as the real power behind the scenes.
On Thursday, the prosecution requested an arrest warrant for Choi after questioning him for about 14 hours. A court will decide Sunday on whether to approve his arrest. It also said a summons for Park will be issued next week.
Former Picity Chairman Lee Jeong-bae, who is now behind bars, told investigators that he bribed a number of “powerful people” to obtain a license to build an office building complex and logistics facilities in southern Seoul.
The project had long been stalled due to its forecast negative impact on traffic and air quality but Seoul City approved the project in May 2006 when President Lee was mayor. Lee served as Seoul mayor from July 2002 to June 2006.
Picity is suspected of having created a slush fund amounting to 34 billion won to lobby for the construction deal. The businessman reportedly gave some 1.1 billion won to presidential aides Choi and Park through the broker. The prosecution hasn’t ruled out the possibility that more presidential aides might have taken money from Picity.