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(LEAD) Police seize key suspect's phone in Seongnam land development scandal

All News 21:44 October 08, 2021

(ATTN: UPDATES with police questioning of lawmaker's son in last five paras)

SEOUL, Oct. 8 (Yonhap) -- Investigations into a key suspect in the snowballing corruption scandal surrounding a lucrative land development project near Seoul are expected to make progress, as police said Friday they have secured his mobile phone.

The Gyeonggi Nambu Police Agency in Suwon, south of Seoul, said its investigators have discovered a mobile phone of Yoo Dong-gyu, former acting president of Seongnam Development Corp., which went missing during a prosecution raid on the suspect's home in Yongin, also south of Seoul, on Sept. 29.

This composite photo shows Yoo Dong-gyu, a key suspect in a land development scandal in Seongnam, south of Seoul, and the prosecution office. (Yonhap)

Yoo reportedly threw his phone out the window of his apartment home during the raid, and prosecutors said later they failed to seize his phone.

The Gyeonggi police agency had reportedly tracked down a person who picked up Yoo's phone outside his apartment through an analysis of its surveillance cameras before confiscating the phone.

The unidentified person is also under investigation on possible charges of criminal collusion with Yoo.

A police official said police are currently scrutinizing the suspect's phone and will actively cooperate with the prosecution on the matter.

Yoo, reported by some media as having a close relationship with Gyeonggi Gov. Lee Jae-myung, the ruling Democratic Party's leading presidential contender, is said to have been deeply involved in the controversial land development project in Seongnam's Daejang-dong district launched in 2015, when the governor was serving as the city's mayor.

Yoo was formally put under pretrial detention over the weekend on charges of breach of trust and bribery in connection with the scandal-ridden project.

Yoo was accused of receiving 1.1 billion won (US$930,138) in kickbacks, and fresh allegations surfaced Friday that the suspect pocketed an additional 830 million won from a contractor.

Police also summoned the son of an independent lawmaker for questioning over suspicions he received an unreasonably huge severance pay from a firm at the center of the land development scandal.

The 32-year-old son of Rep. Kwak Sang-do received 5 billion won in severance pay after seven years of work at Hwacheon Daeyu from 2015 to March this year, while his monthly salary was only about 3.8 million won.

Hwacheon Daeyu, a small asset management company, and its affiliates are suspected of reaping profits of more than 1,000 times their investments after they were chosen as a civilian partner for the lucrative public-civilian development project.

After the revelations, Kwak left the main opposition People Power Party and ultimately gave up his parliamentary seat last Saturday.

Kwak and the company said the 5 billion won includes some compensation and consolation money from the company for the son's health problems caused by overwork. But a civic group reported the father and son to the prosecution on bribery charges.


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