South Korea's president-elect cleared of stock fraud

Other News Materials 21 February 2008 08:38 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Special prosecutors on Thursday cleared South Korean president-elect Lee Myung Bak of stock fraud charges, four days before he is to take office.

The investigation found that Lee was not involved in a case in which one of his former business partners stands accused of stock price manipulation in 2001, said the head of the investigation, former judge Chung Ho Young.

State prosecutors came to the same conclusion at the beginning of December, days before the presidential election.

Accusations that Lee, 66, former mayor of Seoul, made false representations about his wealth and owns land in the capital under other names were also found to be groundless, Chung said.

In the first criminal investigation against a president-elect in South Korea, special prosecutors questioned Lee Sunday over his role in the BKK Asset Management investment firm, which was at the centre of the stock fraud inquiry.

State prosecutors had earlier indicted Lee's former business partner Kim Kyung Joon on charges of stock manipulation, embezzlement and forgery. Lee has denied the allegations against him.

The special prosecutors had 40 days in which to complete their investigation ahead of Lee's inauguration Monday, after which he will enjoy immunity.

The National Assembly ordered the investigation two days before the December 19 presidential election, which Lee, a conservative opposition politician, handily won.