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(LEAD) Ruling party chairman's aide found dead amid investigation over campaign finance violation

All News 10:32 December 04, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with chairman's reaction in last 3 paras)

SEOUL, Dec. 4 (Yonhap) -- A close aide to the ruling Democratic Party (DP) chairman Lee Nak-yon has been found dead while under probe for an alleged breach of the political fund law, the prosecution said Friday.

The police discovered his body in a building near the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office in southern Seoul at around 9:15 p.m. Thursday, after his family reported him missing.

He had been questioned until 6:30 p.m. at the prosecution office and failed to show up for more questioning after dinner. The 54-year-old official, who was working at the secretary office of the DP chairman, is said to have told his family "sorry" before he went missing.

The police presumed he killed himself and were investigating the exact circumstances leading to his death. No suicide note has been found.

The official served as a special adviser on political affairs for Rep. Lee when he was South Jeolla Province governor from 2014-2017.

Last month, the Seoul city government's election commission reported two people, including him, to the prosecution on charges of violating the political fund law.

They were suspected of receiving 115,000 won (US$105) a month between February and May from Trust All, a company believed to be related to the Optimus fraud scandal. The money was for the payment of a rental fee for a multifunction printer at Lee's campaign office. Lee won a seat in the April parliamentary elections.

The Optimus fund scandal has been rocking the country for months, with investigation expanding into political and financial circles. The scandal centers on allegations that the private equity company solicited funds worth about 1.2 trillion won from thousands of people for investments in public institutions but actually funneled most of the money into risky assets, causing huge losses to the investors.

"We feel very sorry for what has happened, and we express our deepest condolences to his family," the prosecution said in a statement.

Lee expressed grief over the sudden death and extended condolences to the bereaved family.

"I have no means to suppress my grief ... I don't know how to console the bereaved family," Lee was quoted as saying by his chief of staff Rep. Oh Young-hun.

"I pray for the repose of the deceased's soul and extend my deep consolation to his family," Lee said.

(LEAD) Ruling party chairman's aide found dead amid investigation over campaign finance violation - 1

jaeyeon.woo@yna.co.kr
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