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S. Korea to investigate future leader

December 27, 2007|From the Associated Press

SEOUL — South Korea's president on Wednesday approved an independent investigation of his successor, Lee Myung-bak, over fraud allegations that have cast a cloud over the former Seoul mayor's landslide election victory last week.

The investigation was prompted by allegations from Lee's rivals that he was involved in an investment firm at the center of stock manipulation allegations.

Lee has denied the allegations. Prosecutors cleared him this month of wrongdoing while indicting a former business partner, a Korean American who was extradited from the U.S. on charges that he spread false information to boost stock prices and fled with millions of dollars.

Lee's opponents in parliament passed a bill two days before the election calling for an independent counsel.

"There is a need to relieve the public suspicion," outgoing President Roh Moo-hyun, an ideological rival of Lee, said Wednesday. Roh said Lee had expressed willingness to accept the special inquiry.

Lee, a former Hyundai executive, said during the campaign that he would step down as president if found to have been involved in financial irregularities.

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