Former presidential aide Cho Yoon-sun appeared at the prosecutor’s office on Sunday to be questioned over bribery involving the nation’s spy agency during the Park Geun-hye administration.
“I will earnestly do my part in the questioning,” she told reporters as she appeared at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office at around 9 a.m.
Former presidential secretary Cho Yoon-sun appears in front of Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office to be questioned over bribery allegations, in Seoul on Sunday. (Yonhap)
The prosecution suspect she received 50 million ($45,800) won from the National Intelligence Service, when she was in office. They believe she obtained the money as a monthly allowance of 5 million won from June 2014 to May 2015.
It has been four months since Cho, the former culture minister and senior political affairs aide to Park Geun-hye, has been released from detention after she was sentenced to a year in prison with two years of probation. She had been charged of creating a blacklist of dissenting artists to deny them state support when she was the culture minister in 2014.
She also faces allegations of creating a “white list” of conservative organizations, and providing financial aid of some 6.9 billion won to selected specific groups, such as the Federation of Korean Industries, by pressing conglomerates.
Several others are under investigation related to the bribery allegations involving the NIS.
An incumbent four-term conservative lawmaker, who was a former finance minister under Park’s leadership, Choi Kyung-hwan, has also been summoned to be questioned over similar allegations on Wednesday. He is suspected of taking 100 million won from the spy agency as he was the finance minister in 2014.
Two former chiefs of the intelligence agency, Lee Byung-kee and Nam Jae-joon are indicted for channeling the agency’s budget to the presidential office in return for personal favors, following the order of the former state chief.
Lee, who led the agency from July 2014 to February 2015 is suspected of sending a total of 600 million won to bribe related officials and presidential aides as Lee, who was the chief from 2013 to 2014 has given a total of 800 million won.
The money came from the intelligence agency’s allotted budget of 4 billion won, dubbed as the “special activities fund.” The budget is not subjected to the parliamentary audit and scrutiny and its usages has been under cover.
According to prosecutors, the practice is likely to have been started by Nam.
The prosecution has been looking into the NIS as it found evidence that the spy agency has manipulated elections, spied on civilians and provided illicit funds to the presidential office under the Park administration.
After the conservative former president was ousted in March, liberal President Moon Jae-in was elected in May. He vowed to reform society and eradicate irregularities, and created reform committees in 13 government bodies, such as the NIS and the Defense Ministry.
By Jo He-rim (email@example.com)