Residents lodge complaint against ex-presidential contender Lee over development scandal

SEOUL-- Residents forced to move out of their homes for a corruption-ridden development project in the city of Seongnam filed a criminal complaint Tuesday accusing former Mayor and Democratic Party presidential candidate Lee Jae-myung of giving unfair profits to the developer.

The development scandal in Seongnam's Daejang-dong district centers on allegations that the developer, Hwacheon Daeyu Asset Management, reaped astronomical profits thanks to arrangements designed by city officials, including a former close aide to Lee.

Lee, who served as mayor from 2014-2018, has denied any wrongdoing in the 2015 project.

But a group of 33 former Daejang-dong residents filed the complaint accusing Lee and 14 others, including the owner of Hwacheon Daeyu and a former city official, of abusing the municipality's compulsory land purchase order to buy up their land against their will.

The residents raised charges of breach of duty and violation of the city development act.

They also alleged that Hwacheon Daeyu was illegally selected as a business partner without a due competition process through "close collusion" among city officials, the city's development agency and the firm, and argued that Lee approved the project even though he was aware of the illegalities involved.

"The crime is a grave one in which they abused state authority to forcibly acquire land and then illegally supplied it to Hwacheon Daeyu so it could reap astronomical profits in home sales," one of the residents said, adding an additional damages suit will be filed if the city fails to confiscate illegal proceeds.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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