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Ex-Gyeonggi vice governor additionally charged with colluding in illegal money transfer to North Korea

National 15:56 March 21, 2023

SUWON, South Korea, March 21 (Yonhap) -- Lee Hwa-young, a former vice governor of Gyeonggi Province who was charged with bribery, was indicted again Tuesday for his alleged involvement in the illegal transfer of millions of dollars to North Korea by a local company.

Lee, a trusted ally of opposition leader Lee Jae-myung, was arrested in September for accepting bribes and illegal political funds from Ssangbangwool Group, an underwear maker. He was indicted the following month.

The district prosecutors office in Suwon, 34 kilometers south of Seoul, said it additionally charged him with violating the foreign exchange transactions act for colluding with Ssangbangwool to transfer US$8 million to North Korea through China between January 2019 and January 2020.

This file photo taken Sept. 27, 2022, shows Lee Hwa-young, former vice governor of Gyeonggi Province, attending a court hearing in Suwon, 34 kilometers south of Seoul. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

This file photo taken Sept. 27, 2022, shows Lee Hwa-young, former vice governor of Gyeonggi Province, attending a court hearing in Suwon, 34 kilometers south of Seoul. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

Kim Seong-tae, the group's former chairman, was indicted for making the payment on behalf of Gyeonggi Province during the time when Lee Jae-myung was the governor and Lee Hwa-young was the vice governor overseeing inter-Korean cooperation projects.

The prosecution believes $5 million was intended for Gyeonggi's smart farm support program in North Korea, and the rest was for then Gov. Lee's planned visit to Pyongyang.

Lee Jae-myung is now the leader of the main opposition Democratic Party. Both Lee Jae-myung and Lee Hwa-young denied the charges.

Kim initially denied the allegation but later admitted that the payment was made in anticipation of the province's support for Ssangbangwool's future business projects in North Korea. He was arrested in January and indicted in early February.

The prosecution also plans to investigate the possible involvement of the DP leader in the case.
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