Close aide to Lee Jae-myung sentenced to 5 years in prison for taking illegal political funds

Posted on : 2023-12-01 17:04 KST Modified on : 2023-12-01 17:04 KST
Kim Yong and others faced charges of accepting bribes and illegal political funds in connection with a development project in Seongnam
Kim Yong, the former vice president of the Democratic Party-affiliated think tank Institute for Democracy, heads into Seoul Central District Court for his bribery trial on Nov. 30. (Kim Hye-yun/The Hankyoreh)
Kim Yong, the former vice president of the Democratic Party-affiliated think tank Institute for Democracy, heads into Seoul Central District Court for his bribery trial on Nov. 30. (Kim Hye-yun/The Hankyoreh)

Kim Yong, the former deputy chief of the Institute for Democracy think tank and close aide to Democratic Party leader Lee Jae-myung, has been sentenced to five years in prison for accepting illegal political funds from a real-estate developer. The developer was connected to a corruption-ridden contract to build an apartment complex in the Daejang neighborhood of Seongnam, a satellite city of Seoul.

The ruling recognized prosecutors’ claims that Kim had solicited dirty money to fund Lee Jae-myung’s presidential campaign.

On Thursday, the Seoul Central District Court found Kim guilty of receiving bribes, in violation of the Political Funds Act and the Act on the Aggravated Punishment of Specific Crimes. Kim was sentenced to five years in prison, an initial fine of 70 million won (US$53,609), and an additional collection amount of 670 million won (US$513,040). Kim had been released on bail this past May, shortly before reaching his maximum period of detention. Kim was arrested and put into custody on the day of the court’s verdict.

Prosecutors accused Kim of accepting 847 million won (US$648,401) from the Daejang neighborhood developer in 2021 to illegally fund Lee’s presidential campaign. Prosecutors also charged Kim with accepting an additional 190 million won in bribes for favoring the developer’s contract for building in Daejang in 2013-2014. The court found Kim guilty of accepting 600 million won in illegal political funds and 70 million won in additional bribes.

Among the funds prosecutors alleged Kim accepted as bribes, the court acquitted Kim of accepting 120 million won (US$91,810). While Kim reportedly received around 100 million won in April 2014, the court stated that such funds “were not compensatory in nature and not related to Kim’s professional duties,” adding, “The funds appear as political campaign funds for Lee Jae-myung’s re-election campaign for Seongnam mayor, and were not bribes.”

But as the seven-year statute of limitations for illegal political funds had expired, prosecutors had not brought political fund indictments on these sums.

Nam Wook, the attorney connected to the Daejang real estate project charged with relaying illegal political funds to Kim, was sentenced to eight months in prison. Yoo Dong-gyu, the former director of the Seongnam Development Corporation (SDC), and Jeong Min-yong, the former SDC strategic project director, were acquitted of bribery. As they simply delivered the funds, the court declared it “difficult to view them as accomplices.”

Addressing the charges, Lee Jae-myung’s team has said, “At the time, we were being flooded with political donations, raking in over 2 billion won in donations within just one week. Not a cent of it was illegal.”

By Lee Jeong-gyu, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

button that move to original korean article (클릭시 원문으로 이동하는 버튼)

Related stories

Most viewed articles