Opposition leader’s ‘right-hand man’ questioned over bribery, corruption charges

SEOUL, Nov. 15 (Yonhap) — Prosecutors questioned one of opposition leader Lee Jae-myung’s closest confidants Tuesday over bribery and corruption charges connected to a high-profile real estate development scandal, officials said.

Jeong Jin-sang, a vice chief of staff to Democratic Party (DP) Chairman Lee, who is also known as Lee’s “right-hand man,” appeared at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office in southern Seoul to face questioning.

Reporters were not able to cover Jeong’s arrival as he reportedly asked his appearance to be private.

The questioning suggests the investigation is closing in on Lee.

Jeong is accused of having received nearly 140 million won (US$105,788) from real estate developers at the center of the high-profile property development corruption scandal in the Daejang-dong district of Seongnam, just south of Seoul, between 2013 and 2020 in return for business favors.

Jeong had served as a senior policy secretary to Lee while he served as the Seongnam mayor and then the governor of Gyeonggi Province surrounding Seoul.

Jeong is known as one of Lee’s two closest aides, along with Kim Yong, deputy head of the DP’s Institute for Democracy think tank, who was indicted last week on charges of receiving hundreds of millions of won in illegal political funds from the property developers.

Jeong is also facing suspicions that he was promised a 24.5 percent stake worth 42.8 billion won in the lucrative development project in return for business favors given to the real estate developers, including Kim Man-bae.

Charges against him also include destruction of evidence for telling Yoo Dong-gyu, former acting president of Seongnam Development Corp. and a key suspect in the development scandal, to throw his mobile phone out of the window when prosecutors raided his home in September last year.

Both Lee and Jeong have flatly denied the allegations, denouncing them as a “poorly written novel.”

A key focus of Tuesday’s questioning is expected to be on whether DP Chair Lee had been aware of or involved in Jeong’s alleged wrongdoings.

Prosecutors were also expected to file for an arrest warrant for Jeong following further questioning.

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