SUWON, South Korea, Aug. 30 (Yonhap) -- A key suspect in the allegation that the wife of former ruling party presidential candidate and incumbent opposition leader Lee Jae-myung misused a provincial government's corporate credit cards years ago appeared at a court Tuesday to attend her pretrial arrest warrant hearing.
The suspect, identified only by her surname Bae, entered the Suwon District Court in Suwon, 50 kilometers south of Seoul, around 10 a.m., accompanied by her lawyer.
Bae, who worked for the Gyeonggi province government as a Grade 5 official from July 2018 to September 2021, when Lee served as governor, is suspected of serving as a protocol secretary for Lee's wife, Kim Hye-kyung, during the three-year-plus period.
Bae is accused of purchasing food with the Gyeonggi government's corporate cards for personal use by Kim, getting prescription drugs for the governor's wife and delivering them to Lee's residence in Seongnam, south of Seoul.
The monetary value of alleged corporate card misuse by Bae is said to reach 20 million won (US$14,850) in more than 100 cases, which is more than the initially known 7 to 8 million won in 70 to 80 cases.
In the court hearing that lasted one hour and 40 minutes, prosecutors reportedly emphasized the need for the arrest of Bae due to fears of evidence destruction, while her lawyer denied some of the charges.
Following the court hearing, Bae was asked by reporters about suspicions related to her corporate credit card use and alleged instructions from Kim but did not reply.
Kim was summoned to police a week ago to face five-hour-long questioning about her credit card misuse allegations and other suspicions. Kim reportedly denied involvement in the alleged corporate card misuse by Bae.
In January, a whistleblower, who formerly worked in the Gyeonggi provincial government as a Grade 7 official, alleged that Kim had forced provincial officials to run her personal errands, such as picking up prescription medicine under another person's name and delivering food and other goods to her home.
The whistleblower also claimed that he was instructed by Bae to use the Gyeonggi government credit cards to pay for Kim's meals on multiple occasions. He based his claim on text messages and phone calls exchanged between him and Bae.
Lee ran for president as a Democratic Party (DP) candidate but was narrowly defeated by People Power Party candidate Yoon Suk-yeol in March this year. Lee was elected as the DP's new chairman on Sunday.
Yoon's outreach to Southeast Asia keeps China in the loop
Allies' defense chiefs highlight watertight alliance based on full extended deterrence against N. Korean threats
(News Focus) Police under fire for lax response to emergency calls hours before Itaewon crush
Police under fire for lax response to emergency calls hours before Itaewon crush
Role of administrative authorities questioned in Itaewon disaster