(2nd LD) Opposition leader indicted over development corruption scandal
(ATTN: UPDATES with more info in paras 8-9; REPLACES photo)
By Park Boram
SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- Prosecutors indicted opposition leader Lee Jae-myung on Wednesday over development corruption and bribery charges arising from his term as mayor of Seongnam, south of Seoul, years ago.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office charged Lee with breach of duty, conflict of interest, bribery and concealment of criminal proceeds connected to development projects in Seongnam's Daejang-dong and Wirye districts, and the city's municipal football club.
Prosecutors had earlier sought an arrest warrant for Lee, chair of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP), but the DP-dominated National Assembly voted to reject the government's request for parliamentary consent to arrest him.
By law, parliamentary consent is necessary to arrest a lawmaker while parliament is in session.
Lee, mayor of Seongnam from 2010-2018, was charged with breach of trust for allegedly causing 489.5 billion won (US$375.4 million) of financial damage to the city government by approving arrangements beneficial to private partners of the Daejang-dong project.
He also faces suspicions of leaking inside secrets of the city government or the city's development corporation to private partners both in the Daejang-dong and Wirye projects so that the partners reaped a total of 809.7 billion won of profits from the lucrative projects to build apartment complexes.
The bribery charge involves allegations that Lee, serving as the head of Seongnam FC during his mayorship, attracted 13.3 billion won in corporate donations to the football club from four companies in return for administrative favors.
Prosecutors also indicted Jeong Jin-sang, an already arrested former vice chief of staff to Lee, on charges of being an accomplice to Lee in connection with the Daejang-dong and Seongnam FC cases.
Lee is separately standing trial over alleged election law violations during his run for the 2022 presidential election.
Lee had undergone three rounds of questioning by prosecutors.
Lee has denied all the allegations, branding the investigation as politically orchestrated by the Yoon Suk Yeol government to remove a "political enemy." Lee ran in last year's presidential election where Yoon won by a razor-thin margin.
Lee said the indictment is "not surprising at all."
"As I have repeated many times, the indictment had already been determined," he said during a party meeting earlier in the day, saying that prosecutors only stalled for time before indicting him to use the case for political purposes.
Lee said he will do his best to fight for the truth in court.
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