Main opposition tables bill to launch special counsel probe into allegations involving first lady

SEOUL, The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) on Thursday submitted a bill calling for a special counsel investigation of first lady Kim Keon Hee over allegations of stock manipulation and bribery.

The DP had tabled a similar bill last year, but proposed a new one that excludes a probe into allegations that Kim falsified her academic credentials when she applied for a teaching job at a university in Seoul in 2014.

The new bill still calls for an independent probe into allegations Kim was involved in the stock manipulation case where a former head of Deutsch Motors Inc., a BMW car dealer in South Korea, was accused of conspiring with influential market players to boost the company's stock prices between 2009 and 2012.

It also calls for an investigation into graft suspicions that about a dozen conglomerates sponsored three art exhibitions sponsored by Kim's former company, Covana Contents, allegedly because President Yoon Suk Yeol was serving in a high-level prosecution position at that time.

The DP plans to push for putting the bill on the fast track to directly put it to a vote at the National Assembly's plenary session as the ruling People Power Party (PPP) holds control of the parliamentary legislative committee, which is an essential gateway for legislation in a normal procedure.

"The opposition parties should come together. The later the special counsel probe kicks off, the more time will be given to the prosecution to exonerate first lady Kim," DP floor leader Park Hong-keun said in a party meeting, calling for the minor opposition Justice Party's support.

Earlier this week, the Justice Party also said it will push for a special probe into the first lady.

The ruling party criticized the move as aimed at guarding opposition leader Lee Jae-myung from ongoing corruption probes and diverting the public's attention from the issue.

Lee faces charges of corruption and bribery in connection with development projects and donations to a municipal football club dating back to his time as mayor of Seongnam, south of Seoul, from 2010-2018.

"Does it conform to the people's sentiment to do everything to shield Lee Jae-myung?" PPP leader Kim Gi-hyeon said.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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