By Kang Hyun-kyung
A progressive civic group has filed a complaint with the prosecution against former President Lee Myung-bak for his role in possible tax evasion and other illegalities involving his scrapped retirement home plan, on Tuesday.
The complaint by the Seoul-based People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) came just nine days after Lee stepped down from office.
In the complaint filed with the Seoul Central District Prosecutor's Office, the PSPD accused Lee of negligence, abuse of power and evasion of gift taxes.
The group alleged Lee was aware of the details of the retirement home project in Naegok-dong, southern Seoul, and was therefore responsible for the misappropriation of public funds.
"As seen in the result of the special prosecution team's investigation, President Lee was seen as either having been deeply involved in the home plan or having given the green light to his staffers to go ahead with the plan," it claimed.
The civic group said Lee was briefed on the retirement home plan three times and he further directed his staffers to purchase the site under the name of his son Si-hyung.
In November, wrapping up its investigation of the land deal, special prosecutor Lee Kwang-bum and his team decided against indicting Lee's son Si-hyung. The team referred the tax records of the president's 34-year-old son to the National Tax Service for possible evasion of gift taxes. It indicted three former and incumbent officials of the Presidential Security Service (PSS) on charges including breach of trust.
The president's only son and the PSS used public funds and violated real estate laws when they jointly bought a plot of land last year. The younger Lee bought the land for 1.2 billion won ($1.1 million). He claimed he tapped 600 million won in loans using a stake his mother owns in the president's private house in Nonhyeon-dong as collateral. He received another 600 million won from his uncle, Lee Sang-eun.
The PSPD claimed that it was inappropriate for Lee to direct the PSS to take care of his retirement home plan, which was his private home.
The group also demanded that prosecutors investigate Lee's wife for her possible involvement in the alleged tax evasion.
The senior Lee directed his staffers to drop the retirement home plan as criticism mounted over the use of state funds for his retirement housing.
He and his wife, Kim Yoon-ok, moved to their home in Nonhyun-dong on Feb. 24, one day before President Park Geun-hye took office.