SEOUL, July 6 (Yonhap) -- Prosecutors on Friday sought court warrants to arrest President Lee Myung-bak's elder brother and a ruling party lawmaker for further questioning about their alleged involvement in a bank bribery scandal.
Lee Sang-deuk, a 77-year-old former lawmaker of the ruling Saenuri Party, and Chung Doo-un, a legislator from the same party, were specifically charged with violating the law on political funds and peddling influence in exchange for accepting huge amounts of money from operators of two troubled savings banks.
Prosecutors have found the chairmen of the banks extensively lobbied politicians and officials to avoid regulatory punishment.
Despite these efforts, the two banks -- Solomon Savings Bank and Mirae Savings Bank -- had their businesses suspended earlier this year for lack of capital. The chairmen were later indicted on charges of extending illegal bank lending and conducting management irregularities.
The Seoul Central District Court will decide on Tuesday whether to issue the warrants or not, according to prosecutors.
The arrest of the elder Lee, accordingly, is expected to be decided in the late hours of the day. Lee, if the warrant is issued, will be the first brother of a sitting South Korean president to be arrested in the country's history.
Prosecutors must get consent from the ruling party-controlled National Assembly in order to arrest Chung, an incumbent legislator.
According to the prosecution, Lee is suspected of accepting a total of 700 million won (US$614,844) in illegal political funds from the two savings banks and Kolon Group for whom he formerly worked as a company president.
Lee, who served six terms in the parliament, allegedly received about 600 million won from the two bank chairmen -- Lim Suk of Solomon and Kim Chan-gyeong of Mirae -- from before the 17th presidential election in 2007 until last year, according to prosecutors.
They say Lee received the remainder from Kolon, without documentation, as a consultation fee.
During Tuesday's marathon interrogation at the Seoul prosecution, however, the elder Lee is believed to have denied most of the bribe-taking charges while saying the small amount of money he admitted to taking was given with no strings attached.
Chung is suspected of receiving around 200 million won from Lim and others during a period between late 2007 and the following year, prosecutors said.
The prosecution say the lawmaker accepted the money from Lim in return for using his influence to help the bank avoid suspension.
Chung is also suspected of accepting money for introducing Lee to one of the disgraced chairmen but the 55-year-old lawmaker has consistently denied the charges.
The legal actions against figures close to the president are a humiliating blow to Lee in his last months in office. News analysts say the recent interrogations could likely lead to a wider investigation into Lee's presidential election financing.
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