Summary of corruption scandals of President Lee Myung-bak’s family and relatives

Disclaimer: The following is a totally unauthoritative personal translation of a news digest appeared on Jan. 4, 2012, in <The MediaUs> which relayed an article appeared in <The Hankyoreh> in a more convenient format. The article summarizes frauds and suspicions centered around President Lee Myung-bak’s family and relatives , a kind of well-known but not well-publicized secrets in Korea now. As a Korean, the story itself makes me personally ashamed and, in fact, frustrated myself by the incapacity of public institutions in dealing with those power-related frauds and controversies. At least the report conveys a glimpse of the status of frauds and suspicions involving President’s family and relatives. The rights regarding this post stay with the author of original article or <The MediaUs> or <The Hankyoreh> and this post will be scrapped immediately at their request. In this post, I personally paid much efforts to make translations of all names and public offices / positions match their authentic English translations but some of them might not match their authentic translations inevitably. Original article of this post (in Korean) can be found in the link at the bottom.

Summary of corruption scandals of President Lee Myung-bak’s family and relatives

… and not yet confirmed corruption scandals of “Lee Myung-bak brothers”, “Lee Myung-bak’s lineal descendants”, and “Kim Yoon-ok’s siblings”

Reporter Kim Wan 김완 ssamwan@gmail.com

It’s crazy; almost a case everyday. Lee Myung-bak’s government, though it is a self-proclaimed ‘ethically perfect government’, is also a government where the president, in a new year’s address, should express “I will look around myself, correct wrongdoings, and manage things more strictly.” And it is a government where fraud scandals of the so-called second man of this government Choi Si-jung, the chairman of Korea Communications Commission, broke out just the next day of President’s new year address. And, on 4th, a news that an acting chairman of the Board of Audit and Inspection had received money from an accomplice of the Savings Bank fraud scandal was revealed.

Derisions and reproaches toward the government ‘they completely utilize power for private profits’, ‘they take advantage of their position so earnestly’, ‘they take whatever they can get at any rate’ are rampant everywhere but the media are still sluggish and still look like contemplating on some ‘Hamlet’-style problem of whether to report them or not. They act like ruthless hyenas to issues involving dead power, but they turn into gentle lambs against frauds of living power. It is really an awkward situation that we should ask what is the social use of media.

Netizens have long requested media to thoroughly cover the frauds of President Lee Myung-bak’s family; some, with a remarkable whip of ability, already summarized the bulky recounts in gory details. Among the institutional media, <The Hankyoreh>, for the first time, summarized the current fraud status of President Lee Myung-bak’s family and relatives in a convenient format. <The Hankyoreh>, in an internet post under the heading “Various frauds and suspicions involving President Lee Myung-bak’s family and relatives”, categorized the frauds of President’s family and relatives in three parts; “Frauds and suspicions of Lee Myung-bak brothers”, “Frauds and suspicions of Lee Myung-bak’s lineal descendants”, and “Frauds and suspicions of Kim Yoon-ok’s siblings”.


▲ Various frauds and suspicions involving President Lee Myung-bak’s family and relatives : Lee Myung-bak brothers (Red: Lee Myung-bak) ⓒ Hankyoreh internet edition image capture

Current fraud status involving Lee Myung-bak brothers

First of all, the oldest brother Mr. Lee Sang-eun is the CEO of DAS, the company under the real owner controversy regarding President Lee Myung-bak. President Lee’s son Mr. Si-hyeong also works there. (Translator’s comment: the record of DAS itself, in relation to the stock price manipulation and embezzlement of company money of company BBK, is far from clean either.) Mr. Jeon Jong-hwa, Mr. Lee Sang-eun’s son-in-law, is the controlling manager of the company ‘C-motech’ and is under the suspicion of stock price manipulation and embezzlement of company money amounting to tens of billions of KRW.

President Lee’s second brother Representative Lee Sang-deuk, the so-called ‘king over king’, was cornered by the arrest of his aides under a bribery charge, bringing up the suspicion that they, in fact, had been massivly involved in a money laundry scheme, and is struggling to ward off this situation through an announcement not to run for next general election. He is also under the suspicion of flexing muscles for special benefits in the construction of South Icheon Interchange which is close to his ancestral burial sites and of being the ultimate behind-the-scene figure of the surveillance scandal of innocent ordinary citizens by the Prime Minister’s Office. Mr. Lee Ji-hyeong, Rep. Lee Sang-deuk’s son, is under the suspicion of causing losses to national coffers amounting to 1.8T KRW by investing to Merrill Lynch as the CEO of Goldman Sachs Korea and is at the center of the Incheon International Airport sell-off controversy. He recently emmigrated to a ‘tax-haven’, Singapore.

Besides, President Lee Myung-bak’s cousin was indicted for swindling 300M KRW from construction company owners in return of the contract to partipate in the four-river project, and a niece Mr. Jeong was arrested recently for swindling 200M KRW for a forged apartment ownership contract.


▲ Various frauds and suspicions involving President Lee Myung-bak’s family and relatives : Lee Myung-bak’s lineal descendants (Red left: Lee Myung-bak; Red right: Kim Yoon-ok) ⓒ Hankyoreh internet edition image capture

Suspicions involving Lee Myung-bak’s lineal descendants

Among President Lee Myung-bak’s lineal descendants, his son Mr. Si-hyeong and his son-in-law Cho Hyeon-beom, the CEO of Hankook Tire, are at the center of controversy. Mr. Si-hyeong is the director of management planning team of DAS of which the real owner controversy is still wrangling. Public interest concerning DAS reignited recently due to media reports that it was planning to move its headquarter to Singapore and possible disputes among ostensible major stake holders centered around securing the managerial control of it. Alongside, Mr. Si-hyeong is accused by an opposition party for being involved in an unlawful transaction of President’s residential property in Naegok-dong. President’s son-in-law Mr. Cho Hyeon-beom, the CEO of Hankook Tire, was suspected of stock price manipulation in last 2009 but exonerated from it after a ‘protective investigation controversy’.


▲ Various frauds and suspicions involving President Lee Myung-bak’s family and relatives : Kim Yoon-ok’s siblings (Red: Kim Yoon-ok) ⓒ Hankyoreh internet edition image capture

Frauds by Kim Yoon-ok’s siblings, far from less in extent

Family members of the First Lady Kim Yoon-ok are also engulfed by all kinds of suspicions as well. Ms. Kim Yoon-ok’s brother-in-law Hwang Tae-seob, despite a non-expert of finance, worked as an advisor of Jeil Savings Bank and pocketed hefty advisory fees. Jeil Savings Bank, accumulating various fishy lobby suspicions, is already suspended for unrecoverable amount of illegal loans. Another brother-in-law Shin Ki-ok, the Chairperson of Korea Red Cross Kyoungpuk branch, is suspected of making a loyalty pledge at the place where they were lobbying for Han Sang-ryul’s appointment as the Director of National Tax Service (he actually got the position) and of being the behind-the-scene figure of ‘falsified BBK letter’ which was used as the solid evidence for prearranged return of Mr. Kim Kyeoung-jun. (Translator’s comment: Mr. Kim is at the center of BBK stock price manipulation and embezzlement crime. He is serving his prison time in Korea for that. But, he still maintains that he was the scapegoat of President’s scheme.)

Besides, Ms. Kim Yoon-ok’s cousin Mr. Kim Jae-hong, former managing director of Seoil College, is the key man in the so-called ‘Seoil College tea incident’ in which the Blue House, National Police Agency, Ministry of Education, Science and Technology are all known to be involved. He is now arrested for receiving 400M KRW from Yoo dong-cheon, the Chairperson of Jeil Savings Bank. Ms. Kim Yoon-ok’s cousin Ms. Kim Ok-hee was also arrested for receiving 3B KRW from Kim Jong-won, the managing director of Seoul City Bus Transportation Union, in return of Grand National Party proportional representative candidacy.

Half of derisions toward Lee Myung-bak’s government should, in fact, be directed to the media 

Even saving already prosecuted cases, fraud suspicions aimed at President Lee Myung-bak’s families are more than 10 cases. Did we have any government like this before? What makes the whole circumstance all the more preposterous is the fact that no media is reporting any of these properly. When the controversy concerning Naegok-dong private residence broke out, a self-deprecating rumor that no reporter from any broadcasting firm came close to the Naegok-dong within 10km radius was circulated in the media sphere like a truth. The rest are more or less the same. It is easy to mangle things like “Lee Myung-bak’s government took advantage of their position so earnestly” in private. But, what is more important is to officially sort out to waht extent and how much those things are true. Of course that is the role media should take up. That’s why, if you are really curious about all the suspicions and frauds surrounding President, half of the derisions should be directed not to President Lee Myung-bak but to press.

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