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(LEAD) 4-term opposition lawmaker accused of receiving 60 mln won in illegal political funds

All News 14:53 November 17, 2022

(ATTN: ADDS lawmaker's response in last 5 paras)

SEOUL, Nov. 17 (Yonhap) -- Rep. Noh Woong-rae of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) is under suspicion that he received a total of 60 million won (US$44,676) from a businessman before and right after the 2020 parliamentary election, a prosecution record showed Thursday.

The four-term lawmaker, who served on the party's supreme council, allegedly took the funds on five occasions through February to December 2020 via the businessman's wife, whom he previously befriended at a charity organization, according to the prosecution's search warrant on him.

On Wednesday, prosecutors searched Noh's home and offices to seize evidence connected to the illegal political fund allegations.

According to the search warrant, Noh first took 20 million won in February at a restaurant near the National Assembly, along with a private request for business favors for the businessman's power plant business.

On four more occasions, in March, July, November and December, he again took a combined 40 million won with requests seeking various kinds of business and administrative favors.

Prosecutors suspect the funds were received to cover the costs of Noh's runs for the National Assembly and the party's Supreme Council, both of which he won.

After analyzing the materials seized in the recent raid, prosecutors are expected to summon the lawmaker for questioning.

Noh, however, flatly denied such allegations, saying he will "stake his entire political career on proving his innocence."

"It just makes no sense that I took tens of millions of won from somebody I have never seen before," Noh said in a press conference, claiming he does not know the businessman accused of bribing him.

Noh also said he was a member of the parliamentary environment and labor committee at the time, which is not related to the businessman's power plant business.

"This investigation is part of a thoroughly devised scenario to suppress the opposition party," Noh said, adding the prosecution's probe is ultimately targeted at DP Chair Lee Jae-myung.

Some of Lee's close aides are currently under prosecution's investigation over bribery and corruption charges connected to a high-profile real estate development scandal.

Rep. Noh Woong-rae of the main opposition Democratic Party speaks during a press conference on Nov. 17, 2022. (Yonhap)

Rep. Noh Woong-rae of the main opposition Democratic Party speaks during a press conference on Nov. 17, 2022. (Yonhap)

pbr@yna.co.kr
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