'UPP Rep. Lee's firm inflated voting expenditure since 2010'
By Yi Whan-woo
The prosecution said Monday it had uncovered hard evidence that a public relations firm run by Rep. Lee Seok-gi of the minor opposition Unified Progressive Party (UPP) inflated campaign expenditures in all elections since 2010.
The Gwangju District Prosecutors’ Office said that Lee, 50, is suspected of fraud during the 2010 local elections and the 2012 parliamentary elections.
“We think he is deeply involved in the case, as we found accounting records with his signature on them to approve the fees,” an investigator said.
The fresh allegation came amid a prosecution probe which began last month into Lee and the firm, CN Communications. The company provided services for the candidates during the general elections in April, and Lee allegedly inflated the costs to receive financial support from the government as mandated by the Election Law.
Investigators expanded the scope of their probe as they received information that Lee also allegedly exaggerated the campaign expenditure of Chang Man-chae, who was elected as the top educator of South Jeolla Province in June 2010 with Lee’s help.
The prosecutors, however, did not make much progress until present as they failed to come up with hard evidence. The UPP also criticized the prosecution that it had targeted Lee, a pro-North Korea lawmaker, for political reasons.
“The UPP lawmakers have been denouncing us, while the employees of CN Communications have been very uncooperative. Now we have the evidence and can make progress,” an investigator said.
According to the prosecution, Lee even provided a manual that gives details on inflating expenditures during the 2010 local elections and the parliamentary elections this year, both of which he regarded as a “big chance” to commit fraud.
“The documents we have seized show that Lee intervened in the spending of every single coin, and we’ll be able to prove the allegations against him,” an investigator said.