A truth panel under the Ministry of Justice called Wednesday for a reinvestigation into allegations that former and incumbent executives at a major banking firm bribed a brother of former President Lee Myung-bak right after he won the 2007 presidential election.
The panel, in charge of looking into mishandling of past cases by the prosecution and judiciary, said it decided to urge the prosecution to reopen the case as more potential evidence came to light.
Allegations have it that Lee Baek-soon, former chief of Shinhan Bank, delivered 300 million won (US$265,275) in cash at the behest of then Shinhan Financial Group Chairman Ra Eung-chan, to an unidentified person at a public parking lot on Mt. Nam in central Seoul in February 2008.
Civic groups that have raised the suspicions claim that the recipient was Lee Sang-deuk, an elder brother of former President Lee, and the money was a gift to congratulate him on his brother’s election victory.
Lee was president from 2008 to early 2013. He is serving a 15-year prison term after being convicted of corruption, pending an appeal.
The truth panel said the prosecution failed to properly delve into the allegations even though two separate complaints about the allegations were filed in 2010 and 2012.
Fresh circumstantial evidence has been found that Wi Sung-ho, then vice president at Shinhan Financial who now heads Shinhan Bank, pressured a bank official at the time of the first probe in 2010 to perjure himself in the testimony about the alleged bribe, and this adds to the need for a reinvestigation, the panel said.
Prosecutors probed the case in 2013 following the second complaint. No charges were filed against either the elder Lee or Ra. (Yonhap)