Saenuri Party launches probe into money-for-nomination scandal
The ruling Saenuri Party on Thursday launched an internal investigation into allegations that one of its lawmakers bribed her way into parliament as it tries to minimize the fallouts ahead of December's presidential election.
The scandal centers on suspicions that Rep. Hyun Young-hee secured a proportional representative seat in April's general elections after paying 300 million won (US$265,960) to Hyun Ki-hwan, then a member of the party's candidate nomination committee.
The internal probe comes at the request of three of the party's five presidential contenders.
The three -- Yim Tae-hee, a former chief of staff to President Lee Myung-bak; Gyeonggi Province Governor Kim Moon-soo; and former South Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim Tae-ho -- boycotted the primary race last Friday after calling on party Chairman Hwang Woo-yea to take responsibility for the scandal.
They returned to the race two days later on the condition that Hwang would step down if the prosecution finds the allegations to be true and that the party would form a truth-finding committee.
Under that agreement, all five presidential candidates, including the party's presidential frontrunner Park Geun-hye and former Incheon Mayor Ahn Sang-soo, recommended one person each to sit on the nine-person committee. The remaining four members were recommended by the party's leadership.
The fact-finding committee, comprised of five lawyers, three lawmakers and a university professor, was approved by the party's Supreme Council early Thursday.
Lee Bong-hee, a lawyer who previously served as chief of the Seongnam branch of the Suwon District Prosecutors' Office, will chair the committee.
Prosecutors are conducting their own investigation into the case as both Hyuns deny the allegations. Despite a shared last name, the lawmaker and the former nomination committee member are not related.(Yonhap)