2/22/2007

Former Aide Accuses Ex-Mayor of Bribery

Korea Times Feb. 22, 2007

By Kim Sue-young
Staff Reporter

Kim Yoo-chan A former secretary of Lee Myung-bak, a strong presidential hopeful of the main opposition Grand National Party (GNP) and a former Seoul mayor, Wednesday detailed a case of bribery.
In a press conference, Kim Yoo-chan said Lee is not entitled to become president and that made him come forward to present evidence of illegal actions.

``Lee Kwang-chol, a former secretary to Lee, gave me a total amount of 125 million won for perjury,'' Kim said. ``Lee (Myung-bak) concentrates on making himself a national hero, and people are cheated by his fabrication.''

Kim said he testified falsely in court that he was given 300 million won from the former mayor's rival in the general elections in 1996. Lee Myung-bak's aides made him tell this lie, he said.

The former secretary said Lee Myung-bak would have been arrested if he had perjured himself.

Lee Myung-bak was fined 7 million won in 1998 for violating the Election Law.

Kim said he has a recording of a phone call from Lee Myung-bak's confidants that they urged him not to schedule a press conference.

Kim said he suffered financial losses working at a U.S. real estate company because of the former mayor's sudden change in the tender system.

He Wednesday submitted related documents and recordings to the GNP's preparatory committee for the primary race.

The committee will decide how to investigate presidential contenders by Monday, a spokesman said.

``We received related documents from Kim. If necessary, we will summon both Kim and Lee Myung-bak,'' the spokesman, Lee Sa-churl, said.

Lee, Seoul mayor from 2002-06, did not respond to Kim's attacks directly. He said the party should deal with the false accusation.

After Kim's disclosure, a confidant of the former mayor held a press conference and rebutted Kim's remarks at the National Assembly.

``Kim insisted that he received 55 million won from Lee Kwang-chol in November 1996, but it can't have happened. Lee was in jail at that time,'' said Rep. Joo Ho-young, who served as chief secretary to Lee Myung-bak. ``He also said Lee suddenly changed the tender system, but it was an open bid from the beginning.''

Aides to Rep. Park Geun-hye, who is competing with Lee Myung-bak for the GNP's ticket in the December presidential election, urged him to explain.

``Lee's confidants have just said that Kim's arguments were part of a conspiracy with Park, but now Lee himself should answer about all the suspicions,'' Rep. Yoo Seong-min, an aide to Park, said.

Lee Myung-bak, who leads presidential contenders in approval ratings, has watched his campaign falter as his rival, Park, insists that his presidential pledges and morality be examined.

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SeanHayes@ipglegal.com