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(LEAD) Prosecution raids Cheong Wa Dae office over probe into ex-vice mayor

14:32 December 04, 2019

(ATTN: UPDATES with more details from para 9; ADDS photo)

SEOUL, Dec. 4 (Yonhap) -- The prosecution raided a division of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae on Wednesday for its probe into an alleged cover-up of an inspection into an ex-vice mayor who faces bribery charges.

The Seoul Eastern District Prosecutors Office said it launched the raid on the Cheong Wa Dae office at 11:30 a.m. after securing a warrant from a court.

State prosecutors are seeking to obtain evidence for its probe into why a special inspection into Yoo Jae-soo, the former vice mayor of Busan, was abruptly suspended.

The 55-year-old Yoo was under surveillance by a special inspection team of Cheong Wa Dae over allegations that he took bribes from businesses when he served as director-general of the Financial Services Commission in 2017.

But Yoo avoided punishment for an unknown reason and became Busan's vice mayor in charge of economic affairs in 2018.

The raid appears to zero in on Cho Kuk, the former top presidential secretary for civil affairs and disgraced former justice minister who is under a separate prosecution probe over family-related allegations.

The prosecution is looking into allegations that Cho and other former Cheong Wa Dae officials may be behind the sudden end of the inspection into Yoo.

In February, a former special inspector filed a petition with the prosecution against Cho, claiming the surveillance was suspended despite alleged wrongdoings by Yoo.

It marked the second raid on Cheong Wa Dae in a year. In December 2018, state prosecutors raided the office of a special inspection team over Cheong Wa Dae officials' alleged illegal surveillance on civilians.

Wednesday's raid was conducted in a manner that prompted presidential officials to submit related evidence items to prosecutors and investigators.

Baek Won-woo, former presidential secretary for civil affairs, are also among the figures believed to have played a role in a decision to end the inspection into Yoo.

Baek is separately under scrutiny by the prosecution over allegations that he provided to police tip-offs of alleged wrongdoings by aides of an opposition party candidate to influence last year's local elections.

Reporters stand by in front of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae in Seoul on Dec. 4, 2019, as the prosecution launched a raid on a Cheong Wa Dae office for a probe into an ex-vice mayor. (Yonhap)

sooyeon@yna.co.kr
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