The prosecution has requested a pretrial detention warrant for main opposition Democratic Party(DP) leader Lee Jae-myung over his alleged role in the Baekhyeon-dong land development scandal and third-party bribery in connection to illegal money transfers to North Korea.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office sought the warrant for Lee on charges of breach of trust, bribery, subornation of perjury and Foreign Exchange Transactions Act violations.
Prosecutors believe that as mayor of Seongnam, Lee was involved in the alteration of conditions for various permits in the Baekhyeon-dong project in favor of private companies back in 2015 that resulted in losses of some 20 billion won for the city.
Lee is also suspected of involvement in illegal money transfers to North Korea by underwear maker Ssangbangwool Group.
The case centers on allegations that former Ssangbangwool chair Kim Seong-tae sent eight million dollars to North Korea in 2019 on behalf of Gyeonggi Province at the request of the province's former deputy governor, Lee Hwa-young, while the DP chief was the governor.
The latest warrant includes charges related to allegations that Lee had a close associate of Kim In-seop, the key lobbyist in the Baekhyeon-dong scandal, give false testimony at his trial in 2019 to shield Lee from suspicions that he violated the Public Official Election Act.
The request comes some seven months after the National Assembly voted down an earlier request for a pretrial detention warrant over Lee’s alleged role in the Daejang-dong and Wirye land development scandals as well as suspicions of third-party bribery through Seongnam’s football club.
The prosecution’s latest move comes on the same day that the DP chief was hospitalized over his deteriorating health as his hunger strike against the Yoon Suk Yeol administration entered its 19th day.