(LEAD) Police seek arrest warrants against 2 LH officials in investigation into land speculation
(ATTN: UPDATES to paragraphs 1-12 with arrest warrants for LH officials; CHANGES title, date; ADD photo)
SEOUL / INCHEON, Apr. 05 (Yonhap) – Police announced on Monday that they have requested arrest warrants against two officials of the state property developer, Korea Land and Housing Corp. (LH), for the first time since they last opened an investigation. months after allegations of land speculation by LH employees.
Gyeonggi Nambu Police Agency said it requested an arrest warrant on Friday against an LH official suspected of using inside information to purchase several plots of land, mainly in Gwangmyeong, southwest of Seoul, before designation of the area as a site for the development of social housing.
The purchases were made between March 2017 and December 2018 under the names of 36 people, including family members of the suspect and acquaintances, according to police.
The official worked in an LH department in charge of the development project in early 2017, with responsibilities that included reviewing development restrictions and deciding when to announce the designation of the area as a development site. of public housing.
The second suspect was working for LH’s regional headquarters in North Jeolla province when he purchased real estate in Wanju in the same province in 2015 on behalf of his wife, according to the Jeonbuk Police Agency, which reported. asked Monday for an arrest warrant against him.
The official was said to have been in charge of public housing projects in Wanju until recently.
Arrest of those responsible is sought as the central government has carried out a wide-ranging investigation into allegations of land speculation by LH officials and other public sector workers across the country.
A police-led government investigation team said on Monday it had started seriously investigating allegations of real estate speculation against five members of the National Assembly.
The team finished questioning the accusers last week and are in the process of verifying the information they obtained, Choi Seung-ryul, a senior police official told reporters, adding: “It will take some time. time “before the legislators in question are personally investigated.
The LH scandal has rocked the nation at a time when public discontent with soaring house prices is high.
Earlier Monday, Incheon Metropolitan Police said investigators raided five locations as part of an investigation into possible land speculation by a former Incheon council member during his tenure.
The searches were carried out at the home of the 61-year-old man, at offices related to Incheon City Hall and Incheon Metropolitan Council, as well as the offices of two city realtors located in 40 kilometers west of Seoul.
The former board member was charged with bribery amid allegations he used undisclosed information to purchase land worth 1.96 billion won ($ 1.74 million) in the Seo district of Incheon in August 2017, two weeks before the area was approved for a city development project. .
Of the total amount, he reportedly took out 1.68 billion won in loans.
The suspect, who chaired the council’s construction and transport committee at the time, then sold the land to a city developer in exchange for land in a shopping district.
“We are investigating the case as we suspect that (the former board member) purchased real estate using secrets learned through work,” said a police official, adding that the suspect would soon be summoned for an interrogation after an analysis of the documents and materials seized.
The former lawmaker has denied the allegations against him, telling Yonhap News Agency in an interview last month that the development project was reported in the press before he made the purchase.
Police said they are also investigating possible speculative behavior in the suspect’s other land purchases in Incheon.