(ATTN: UPDATES with details of court decision throughout)
SEOUL, Dec. 1 (Yonhap) — A Seoul court on Wednesday denied an arrest warrant request for a former opposition lawmaker accused of accepting bribes in the form of severance pay for his son from an asset firm at the center of a massive development corruption scandal.
The Seoul Central District Court denied the prosecution’s request to arrest Kwak Sang-do, the former main opposition People Power Party (PPP) lawmaker who ultimately gave up his parliamentary seat following revelations that his son received 5 billion won (US$4.2 million) in severance pay from Hwacheon Daeyu Asset Management.
The court ruled that the prosecution failed to sufficiently make its case for the arrest and added that Kwak needed to be guaranteed his legal defense rights.
Hwacheon Daeyu has been under investigation over its astronomical profits reaped from a lucrative apartment development project in the Daejang-dong district of Seongnam City, south of Seoul.
In the arrest warrant, prosecutors accused him of accepting 2.5 billion won, the amount given to his son after tax was deducted from the total, in exchange for offering business favors to Hwacheon Daeyu while serving as head of the state-run Korea Legal Aid Corp. in 2015.
Kwak has denied all allegations against him.
The scandal has received intense media coverage amid questions about its potential impact on next year’s presidential election. The PPP has claimed Lee Jae-myung, the ruling party’s presidential candidate who served as Seongnam mayor when the development project was launched in 2015, was behind the whole scheme.