Prosecutors raid offices, home of opposition leader’s close aide in bribery investigation

November 9, 2022

 Prosecutors raided the home and offices of one of the closest confidants of opposition leader Lee Jae-myung Wednesday on suspicions that the aide received bribes from real estate developers.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office sent investigators to the headquarters of the main opposition Democratic Party (DP) in Seoul in the morning to search the office of Jeong Jin-sang, a vice chief of staff to party leader Lee, to seize evidence related to the allegations, officials said.

They got into the building after a standoff with party officials who blocked the entrance. Investigators also raided his home. Later in the day, they also searched Jeong’s office in the National Assembly.

Prosecution investigators stand in front of the Democratic Party's headquarters in Seoul's Yeouido on Nov. 9, 2022, as party officials shut down the entrance in resistance to a raid.
This image shows the entrance to the home of Jeong Jin-sang in Seongnam where a prosecution raid is under way on Nov. 9, 2022. (Yonhap)

Prosecution investigators stand in front of the Democratic Party’s headquarters in Seoul’s Yeouido on Nov. 9, 2022, as party officials shut down the entrance in resistance to a raid.

Jeong, known as Lee’s “right-hand man,” is one of the party leader’s two closest aides, along with Kim Yong, deputy head of the DP’s Institute for Democracy think tank.

Jeong was accused of having received nearly 140 million won (US$101,973) from real estate developers at the center of a high-profile property development corruption scandal in the Daejang-dong district of Seongnam, south of Seoul, between 2013 and 2020, in return for business favors.

The raid came a day after prosecutors indicted Kim on charges of receiving 847 million won in illegal political funds from the property developers.

Prosecutors suspect Jeong leaked real estate development information he obtained while working for the Seongnam municipal and the Gyeonggi provincial governments to the real estate developers, including lawyer Nam Wook, to help them amass massive profits from the Daejang-dong project.

Prosecutors also suspect Jeong and Kim have been in a close relationship since 2010, and were treated to drinking parties and given holiday presents by the developers.

Jeong is also suspected of having attempted to silence former acting President Yoo Dong-gyu of Seongnam Development Corp., a key suspect in the scandal, ahead of a prosecution raid into Yoo’s home in September last year.

Lee was serving as Seongnam mayor when the development project in the city was launched in 2015. Jeong served as a high-level aide to Lee during his Seongnam mayoral term and then moved on to become a ranking aide again to Lee after he assumed the Gyeonggi governorship.

Both Lee and Jeong have flatly refuted the suspicions.

Prosecutors are expected to summon Jeong soon for questioning, and then the focus of the investigation is widely expected to be directed toward whether Lee had been involved in the suspected bribery or aware of it.