Probe into alleged bribery cover-up expanding to Moon’s aides

11-Dec-2019 Intellasia | KoreaTimes | 6:02 AM Print This Post

The investigation into alleged abuse of power at Cheong Wa Dae in the closing down of’ an investigation into a former Busan vice mayor is expanding to key aides of President Moon Jae-in.

The Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors’ Office said Monday, it had recently questioned Yun Kun-young, a presidential secretary for state affairs; South Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim Kyoung-soo; and Cheon Kyeong-deuk, a senior presidential aide for administrative affairs regarding the case. The prosecution did not make the questioning public before it took place as per new regulations governing conduct.

The questioning was part of the prosecution’s probe into the allegation that a 2017 investigation by a special team under Cheong Wa Dae’s civic affairs office into corruption committed by Yoo Jae-soo, former Busan vice mayor and then director-general of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), was abruptly halted for unknown reasons. It has been suspected that high-profile figures from the ruling bloc exerted their influence to help Yoo.

By obtaining the special team’s 2017 investigation records, prosecutors found that Yoo and then three aides of Moon ? Yun, Kim and Cheon ? allegedly discussed key personnel appointments at the FSC through a Telegram group chat.

Cheon is especially suspected of having asked Yoo to appoint his acquaintance to an FSC position.

Prosecutors said they questioned the aides over whether they meddled in personnel affairs at the FSC and if they were involved in the abrupt halt of the special team’s investigation into Yoo.

Others involved in the allegations have already been summoned for questioning, including Park Hyung-chul, presidential secretary for anti-corruption, and Baek Won-woo, a former presidential secretary for civic affairs.

During questioning, Park and Baek said then senior presidential secretary for civic affairs Cho Kuk, who later became justice minister, ordered the halt of the investigation into Yoo. Based on their testimony, the prosecution is expected to summon Cho for questioning in the coming days.

Prosecutors also questioned former FSC Chair Choi Jong-ku, and FSC vice Chair Kim Yong-bum over why they accepted Yoo’s resignation without taking any disciplinary action, even after they were fully informed by the presidential office of the corruption allegations surrounding him.

Yoo allegedly received money, flight tickets for his children studying abroad, and other perks from companies that were under the FSC’s supervision. But after the Cheong Wa Dae special team’s investigation was halted, he resigned without suffering any disciplinary action, and was assigned to an advisory post with the ruling Democratic Party of Korea, before becoming the vice mayor.

The civic affairs office faces allegations that it meddled in local elections in 2018 by tipping off the police of alleged wrongdoings by aides of an opposition party mayoral candidate in Ulsan, so the ruling party candidate Song Cheol-ho ? another close aide to Moon ? could win.


Category: Korea

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