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Roh reportedly called corrupt executive, demanded US$1 million: prosecutors

All Headlines 15:11 April 11, 2009

SEOUL, April 11 (Yonhap) -- Prosecutors investigating an unfolding corruption probe implicating the former first family said Saturday that in 2007, then President Roh Moo-hyun allegedly called a businessman, who is currently indicted on charges of bribery, and demanded US$1 million from him.

Park Yeon-cha, a businessman arrested on charges of giving billions of won in bribe to political heavyweights, has given the testimony implicating the former president and several Roh family members, state prosecutors said.

An investigation into Park -- who allegedly handed out billions of won to political heavyweights, including Roh's confidants and former government officials in exchange for various favors -- shifted to the Roh family after the former president confessed on his Web site that his wife, Kwon Yang-sook, had accepted money from Park to repay a debt.

Park, who runs a shoe manufacturer near Roh's hometown and is one of the former president's financial supporters, said he delivered the money to Jung Sang-moon, then a Roh aide at the presidential office, through a friend.

Park was reported to have hurriedly converted some 1 billion won into $1 million after he received the phone call. He later placed the cash in a suitcase and delivered it to Jung, according to investigators.

Roh's admission earlier this week has cast a shadow on the legacy of the former president, who took office in 2003 pledging clean politics.

The former president's older brother has already been indicted on charges of colluding with Park to broker the buyout of an ailing securities firm from a state-run company in 2006.

Investigators are expected to summon and question the former first couple as early as next week to find out whether Roh knew about his wife's dealings with Park.

They have were also expected to summon the former president's son, Roh Gun-ho, to question him over whether he met Park in Vietnam with Yeon Chul-ho, a son-in-law of Roh's older brother. Yeon has been taken into custody on charges of receiving $5 million from Park.


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