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Court document shows lobbying attempt by arrested ex-vice minister

All Headlines 20:07 December 06, 2011

SEOUL, Dec. 6 (Yonhap) -- A former vice culture minister arrested on bribery charges once attempted to lobby a high-ranking government official upon request from a businessman, a court document showed Tuesday.

An arraignment paper obtained by Yonhap News Agency showed that Shin Jae-min, the ex-vice culture minister, arranged a meeting between a senior official at the knowledge economy ministry and Lee Kuk-chul, chairman of SLS Group, in November 2008. It said Lee had asked Shin to use his government connections so that Lee's shipbuilding company could be excluded from the knowledge economy ministry's plan to restructure the shipbuilding industry.

The government at the time was trying to review credit ratings of local shipbuilders amid the global economic crisis and designate companies for restructuring.

The arraignment letter reveals for the first time Shin's specific lobbying attempt upon Lee's request. Shin, the vice culture minister from 2008 to 2009, was arrested late last month on charges of taking more than 103 million won (US$91,150) from Lee. The SLS chairman was arrested earlier in November on charges of greasing the palms of high-profile politicians and public officials in search of business favors.

Until now, both Shin and Lee have denied that the money changed hands in exchange for any influence peddling.

The court document on Tuesday also showed that Shin had tried to tone down prosecutors' investigation into SLS companies in October 2009. The document stated that Shin took the request from Lee and later contacted a third party to help the SLS chairman.

Shin, formerly a close aide to President Lee Myung-bak, is also facing accusations that he accepted the free use of a sedan from another businessman during the 2007-2008 period when he was part of Lee's election camp and the newly elected administration, in violation of the local election fund law, according to prosecutors.

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