Opposition leader’s close aide sentenced to 5-year jail term
A close aide to opposition leader Lee Jae-myung was sentenced to a five-year prison term on Thursday on bribery and illegal political fund charges connected to a high-profile development corruption scandal.
Kim Yong, a former deputy head of the main opposition Democratic Party’s Institute for Democracy think tank, was indicted in November on charges of receiving illegal political funds in 2021 from a real estate developer at the center of the corruption-ridden project to build apartment complexes in the Daejang-dong district of Seongnam, south of Seoul.
He was also charged with pocketing 190 million won ($147,115) in bribes from 2013-14 from Yoo Dong-gyu, a former senior official at Seongnam’s city development corporation, in return for business favors related to the project.
The Seoul Central District Court found Kim partly guilty of the charges, acknowledging illegal political funds worth 600 million won and bribes of 70 million won.
Kim was also sentenced to a fine of 70 million won and a forfeiture of 670 million won. Prosecutors had demanded a 12-year prison term for Kim.
Kim was immediately taken into custody at the courtroom after the five-year prison sentence, with the court expressing concerns about the potential destruction of evidence.
“This case constitutes a series of corruption crimes committed through collusive ties built between Kim, then a member of a regional assembly … and private developers via official authorization rights in return for financial rewards,” the court said.
“As a result, profits from the development project, which should have been returned to local residents and the public, were largely channeled to private developers,” it said.
The scandal centers on allegations that a small private asset management company, Hwacheon Daeyu, secured the lucrative development project in Daejang-dong in Seongnam and reaped hefty profits. The Democratic Party’s chair, Lee, was Seongnam mayor when the project was launched.
Lee is currently standing trial on bribery and other charges related to the scandal.
Thursday’s guilty ruling, the first court decision in the scandal, is widely expected to have a negative impact on the ongoing trial for Lee.
The court also sentenced the private developer, Nam Wook, accused of providing political funds to Kim, to eight months in prison, while acquitting Yoo, who had been charged in connection with the scandal.
The Korea Times Co.