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South Korea indicts opposition chief Lee over property graft

SEOUL: South Korean prosecutors indicted opposition chief Lee Jae-myung on Wednesday (Mar 22) on corruption expenses in a US$1 billion property improvement scandal relationship to his earlier stint as a mayor, the Yonhap information company stated.

Lee, chair of the principle opposition Democratic Celebration, who misplaced to President Yoon Suk Yeol in final 12 months’s election, faces a number of expenses, together with bribery, corruption, breach of belief and conflicts of pursuits, Yonhap stated.

Prosecutors have sought to arrest him after an 18-month investigation into the 1.5 trillion gained (US$1.15 billion) development undertaking. Parliament, the place Lee’s social gathering holds a majority, voted down a movement final month to waive immunity granted to lawmakers.

Prosecutors have stated Lee colluded with a gaggle of personal property builders when he was mayor of Seongnam, simply south of Seoul, to assist them rake in additional than 800 billion gained ($611.5 million) from the undertaking, whereas inflicting losses of almost 490 million gained on the town.

He was additionally accused of receiving or demanding greater than 18 billion gained from 4 corporations in bribes to bankroll a financially strapped professional soccer membership based mostly within the metropolis in return for administrative favours.

Prosecutors additionally indicted Jeong Jin-sang, certainly one of Lee’s closest aides, who was arrested in November over the scandal, as his confederate, Yonhap stated.

Calls to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Workplace went unanswered.

Lee, who was Seongnam mayor from 2010 to 2018, has denied any wrongdoing and accused prosecutors of fabricating expenses out of political motives.

“The indictment was a predetermined final result, however they only needed to purchase time for political exhibits,” Lee informed a gathering with senior social gathering members. “Now that the ball is within the court docket, I’ll do my finest to uncover the reality.”

Lee’s indictment is more likely to deepen issues for the Democrats, who’ve confronted criticism that the social gathering abused its majority energy to forestall his arrest whilst extra voters name for electing a brand new chief.

In a ballot by R&Search launched on Wednesday, virtually 48 per cent of respondents stated Lee ought to resign, and about 45 per cent opposed. A Gallup survey final month confirmed about 57 per cent supported eliminating lawmakers’ immunity from arrest, whereas 27 per cent stated it’s wanted to struggle political persecution.

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