Cheong Wa Dae wary of Sung’s list
By Kang Seung-woo
The note of former Keangnam Chairman Sung Woan-jong that includes a list of politicians who allegedly accepted bribes from him has increased pressure on the presidential office and the ruling Saenuri Party.
Sung, who was found dead Thursday in an apparent suicide, was at the center of an investigation into the Lee Myung-bak administration’s failed “energy diplomacy. ”
According to the prosecution on Friday, those included in the memo are President Park Geun-hye’s Chief of Staff, Lee Byung-kee, two former chiefs of staff Kim Ki-choon and Huh Tae-yeol, as well as Prime Minister Lee Wan-koo, Hong Joon-pyo, governor of South Gyeongsang Province and Incheon Mayor Yoo Jeong-bok.
In the wake of the incident, Cheong Wa Dae, still recovering from the “memogate” scandal in November, said it could not confirm the contents of the note, which were revealed by the local daily Kyunghyang Shinmun.
“The presidential office knows nothing about it,” presidential spokesman Min Kyung-wook said in a briefing, adding that it did not contact the two former chiefs of staff.
“As Kim and Heo are former chiefs of staff, the Office of Senior Secretary to the President for Civil Affairs could not confirm the claim”
Later in the day, Kim issued a statement through Cheong Wa Dae rejecting the claim that he received $100,000 (109 million won) from Sung.
“I never took the money and it is a completely fabricated story,” he said.
Huh also denied the allegations, saying it was unimaginable. The news report claimed Heo received 700 million won.
The other people allegedly named in the note also denied accepting bribes.
The bombshell came just weeks before the parliamentary by-elections, which are widely seen as a bellwether for next year’s general election.
The ruling Saenuri Party called a Supreme Council meeting later on Friday to limit any aerse effects from the scandal.
“I will seek ways to deal with it after returning to Seoul,” Saenuri Chairman Kim Moo-sung told reporters during his visit to Gwangju to support the party’s candidate in the by-elections.
“The Saenuri Party will set a clear stance to prevent the scandal from hitting the party hard in the by-elections. ”
Meanwhile, the main opposition New Politics Alliance for Democracy (NPAD) went all-out to turn things around before the by-elections.
“The NPAD defines the illegal political funds incident as the biggest political scandal of the Park administration,” NPAD spokesman Kim Sung-soo said in a briefing.
“The truth behind the incident must be uncovered with thorough investigations.”
SOURCE: The Korea Times