South Korea's four major parties agreed Monday to push for an independent investigation into a massive political funding and influence-peddling scandal surrounding a lucrative property development project.
However, the special probe into the case involving high-profile politicians will be launched after the May 9 presidential election, party officials said.
Floor leaders of the four major political parties hold a weekly meeting at the National Assembly on March 20, 2017. They are (from L) Joo Seung-yong of the People's Party, Chung Woo-taik of the Liberty Korea Party, Woo Sang-ho of the Democratic Party and Joo Ho-young of the Bareun Party. (Yonhap)
"We agreed the issue will be investigated by a special prosecutor but after the presidential election," said Rep. Joo Seung-yong, floor leader of the splinter People's Party.
The agreement came at a meeting of floor leaders of the four parties. They include Woo Sang-ho of the Democratic Party, Chung Woo-taik of the former ruling Liberty Korea Party and Joo Ho-young of the minor conservative Bareun Party.
Shortly after former President Park Geun-hye was removed in a March 10 ruling by the Constitutional Court, the whips of the four political parties agreed to hold weekly meetings to discuss and coordinate their policies as a way of helping stabilize the nation.
The proposed special probe will reopen the so-called LCT scandal that was concluded by state prosecutors earlier this month.
Wrapping up its seven-month investigation, the prosecution indicted 24 people on March 9 on suspicions of bribery and other irregularities surrounding the development project to build a skyscraper in the southern port city of Busan.
Those indicted included Rep. Bae Duk-kwang of the Liberty Korea Party; Hyun Ki-hwan, a former presidential secretary under the Park administration; and former Busan Mayor Hur Nam-sik.
The former ruling party criticized the prosecution's investigation as incomplete and even biased.
"The edge of the prosecution's sword was directed only at the incumbent administration and ruling party officials throughout the investigation, while opposition party figures did not face any serious questioning," Rep. Kim Myeong-yeon, a spokesman for the Liberty Korea Party, said earlier.
The four floor leaders also discussed ways to reform the parliament procedures. They failed to narrow their differences and only agreed to implement reforms at the next National Assembly to be formed in 2020, they said.