Rep. Gong Sung-jin of the ruling Grand National Party lost his parliamentary seat Thursday as the Supreme Court upheld the lower court’s decision to convict him of receiving illicit political funds.
The top court confirmed the appellate court’s ruling that sentenced the 58-year-old politician to eight months in jail ― suspended for two years ― and fined him 158.38 million won ($146,133).
Parliamentarians can be stripped of their posts if they are fined 1 million won or more or given a heavier punishment for violating election or political fund laws. The ruling reduced the number of GNP legislators at the 299-member National Assembly to 171.
“I failed to live up to your expectations. I will have a time for self-reflection and growth for a short period of time,” he said in a text message sent to reporters and his well-wishers.
Gong was indicted in December 2009 without detention for pocketing some 200 million won from a chief of a golf range in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province, and two other companies.
The top court, however, cleared him of the charge that he received 41 million won from the golf range head, saying that the charge had not been proved beyond reasonable doubt.
Gong is also being investigated by the prosecution for the charge of taking some 180 million won from Shin Sam-gil, an arrested honorary chairman of the distressed Samhwa Mutual Savings Bank. He denies the charge.
Prosecutors suspect that Shin illegally lobbied Gong and another politician for business favors between 2005 and 2008.
Shin is suspected of handing over the money to him through Gong’s sister. Investigators have recently barred her from leaving the country. They are also tracking down Gong’s banking records to try and find evidence.
Gong, a former public administration professor, has represented a constituency in southern Seoul for the two consecutive terms since he was first elected to the Assembly in May 2004. In 2008, he served as a member of the party’s decision-making Supreme Council.
By Song Sang-ho (firstname.lastname@example.org