(LEAD) PPP to hold ethics committee meeting over sexual bribery allegations against party chief

주경돈 / 2022-06-22 10:31:38
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(LEAD) PPP chief-ethics committee
▲ People Power Party Chairman Lee Jun-seok listens to reporters' questions as he leaves a seminar room at the National Assembly in Seoul on June 21, 2022. (Pool photo) (Yonhap)

(LEAD) PPP chief-ethics committee

(LEAD) PPP to hold ethics committee meeting over sexual bribery allegations against party chief

(ATTN: REWRITES throughout)

SEOUL, June 22 (Yonhap) -- The ruling People Power Party was set to hold an ethics committee meeting Wednesday in connection with allegations that party chairman Lee Jun-seok received sexual services as a bribe about 10 years ago and attempted to cover up the case.

The scandal is considered the biggest crisis yet for Lee, who won the PPP chairmanship last year as the first person in his 30s to take the helm of a major political party in South Korea. Lee could lose his chairmanship depending on what disciplinary action the committee takes.

The allegations are that Lee received sexual services paid for by a businessperson in 2013. At the time, Lee was considered close to then President Park Geun-hye because Park handpicked him for a seat at the party's collective leadership two years earlier.

The scandal has persistently dogged Lee since Hover Lab, a far right-wing YouTube channel, first raised the allegations in December. The channel raised fresh allegations months later that Lee sent an aide to the person accusing him of sexual bribery to obtain a statement that the allegations were false.

Lee has claimed he is innocent and is expected to attend Wednesday's ethics committee meeting.

It is the first time in the party's history that a party chairman has been referred to the committee.

The types of disciplinary action the committee can take range from a warning to expulsion from the party, though observers speculate that the ethics panel could simply review the case at Wednesday's meeting and announce its decision later.

Lee would be largely unaffected by the allegations if the committee takes the lightest disciplinary action of issuing a warning. But his chairmanship could be put in jeopardy if the committee decides to either suspend his party membership, recommend him to quit the party or expel him.

(END)

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