On the 30th, the arrest warrant requested by the prosecution for former special prosecutor Park Young-soo, who is suspected of the so-called ‘5 스포츠토토billion club’ for helping and accepting large amounts of money from private contractors developing Daejang-dong, was dismissed. The court judged that the charges had not been clarified, saying, “There is room for dispute,” but the prosecution is considering whether to re-apply for a warrant, saying it is “difficult to understand.” As the warrant requested by the prosecution one year and nine months after the start of the investigation was blocked in front of the court, it is observed that the investigation into the suspicion of the ‘5 billion club’ will be difficult to avoid sluggishness.
Seoul Central District Court Judge Yoo Chang-hun, who is in charge of warrants, held a pre-arrest interrogation (warrant review) for former special prosecutor Park the day before, and dismissed the arrest warrant that day. Chief Judge Yu judged that “when looking at the statements of the people involved, which is the main evidence, there is room for dispute in terms of facts and laws, such as whether the suspect is appropriate for his or her duties, whether money or valuables are actually received, and whether or not the promise to provide money or valuables is established.” At the same time, he said, “It is difficult to recognize the significance of arrest at this stage, as arresting the suspect at this point seems to limit the suspect’s right to defense excessively.”
Under the Criminal Procedure Act, in order for a suspect to be arrested, there must be considerable reason to suspect that he has committed a crime.
First, what the court saw as a matter of dispute was whether former special prosecutor Park was a ‘financial company employee’ who was subject to the charges of bribery (status offender) under the Act on the Aggravated Punishment of Specific Economic Crimes at the time. In 2014, former special prosecutor Park was appointed chairman of Woori Financial Group’s board of directors in the early days of the public-private joint development of Daejang-dong. In an interrogation of the suspect before the arrest the day before, former special prosecutor Park’s side claimed, “The Woori Financial Group, where former special prosecutor Park worked, was not a financial company, so former special prosecutor Park was not subject to the charges.” On the other hand, the prosecution said, “After the merger of Woori Financial Group and Woori Bank in November 2014, former special prosecutor Yang Jae-shik, who is close to former special prosecutor Park, committed a crime such as demanding profits from private companies.” replied that he was right.
Second, the court found it unclear whether former special prosecutor Park accepted 800 million won. Of the 800 million won that the prosecution claimed that former special prosecutor Park accepted, 500 million won was sent to former special prosecutor Park in April 2015 by former special prosecutor Park’s cousin Lee Ki-seong at the direction of Kim Man-bae, a major shareholder of Hwacheon Daeyu Asset Management, a private business in Daejang-dong. It was sent to Hwacheon Daeyu. In an interrogation of the suspect before arrest, the prosecution said, “ Former special prosecutor Park paid 500 million won for Hwacheon Daeyu’s capital increase in order to secure the promised 5 billion won from private businesses in return for participation in the Woori Bank consortium and request for project financing (PF) loan issuance . It was put in as equity investment),” he insisted. The former Special Prosecutor Park’s side countered, saying, “It’s just a transaction between Mr. Kim and Mr. Lee, and it has nothing to do with former Special Prosecutor Park.”
The court judged that the remaining 300 million won, which former special prosecutor Park received as campaign funds for the president of the Korean Bar Association, from private businesses was also sharply divided. During the interrogation of the suspect before his arrest, the prosecution argued that 300 million won was delivered as part of the fulfillment of the promise at the time when a large amount of money was promised and requested from private contractors in Daejang-dong. Former Special Prosecutor Park presented to the court, “There is no fact that he received 300 million won,” and the details of bank account transactions containing details of the use of election expenses at the time.
Lastly, with regard to whether or not the ‘promise was established’ between former Special Prosecutor Park and private businesses, the prosecution emphasized that the promise was actually realized with the structure of ‘solicitation and promise → issuance of letter of intent from Woori Bank → receipt of 800 million won, etc.’, but the court proved I saw this as lacking.
Inside the prosecution, the atmosphere of perplexity is evident. This is because the reason for dismissing the arrest warrant was that the ‘criminal component itself was not established’. The results of the warrant review, which the court released to the media, did not include a judgment on fears of destroying evidence or fleeing. In addition, it was a follow-up dismissal after the warrant for Jo Woo-hyung, the real owner of ‘Chunhwa Dongin No. 6’, was dismissed a month ago.
With former Rep. Kwak Sang-do, who was the first to be brought to trial among those involved in the 5-billion club allegations, being acquitted in the first trial, and even former special prosecutor Park failing to arrest, there is even a prospect that the investigation into the 5-billion club allegations will be difficult to gain momentum. In particular, after securing the former special prosecutor Park’s new recruits, the prosecution, which tried to speed up the investigation by investigating the nature of the funds received from Hwacheon Daeyu by the former special prosecutor Park’s daughter and whether or not additional funds were received, was inevitably disrupted.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office made a position on the day, saying, “According to the statements of many related persons and objective evidence supporting this, it is difficult to understand the reason for the court’s dismissal of the warrant in a situation where it is sufficiently acknowledged that money and goods were received and promised in exchange for favors.” We will review whether to re-apply for an arrest warrant through a supplementary investigation in the future.”