Prosecutors plan to call back in the Seoul education chief on Tuesday afternoon for questioning on suspicions that he paid off a rival candidate in last year's election so that he could secure the high-profile position.
Kwak No-hyun, the elected superintendent of the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education, is suspected of giving 200 million won (US$186,567) to Park Myoung-gee, a college professor and rival candidate from the same liberal bloc, for the election for the education superintendent post.
Prosecutors suspect the money delivered to Park early this year was given in return for Park's withdrawal from the election, which primarily contributed to Kwak's election victory. Kwak had allegedly promised a total of 700 million won in a secret deal with Park, which prosecutors suspect led Park to drop out of the race.
The Seoul education chief returned home early Tuesday after 16 hours of intensive questioning from prosecutors.
He quickly left the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office in southern Seoul without responding to reporters who asked about the interrogation.
Kwak's lawyer, who accompanied him through the prosecution's questioning, told reporters that the superintendent "sincerely explained what he knew about negotiations to pick a sole candidate and the unconditional withdrawal (of a rival candidate)."
Kwak denied the bribery charges and reiterated his previous stance that the money was only given as a gesture of "goodwill" for Park, who was suffering hefty debts due to his election campaign, according to prosecutors. The education chief has insisted that there was no link between the money and Park's withdrawal.
In order to further question Kwak, the prosecution plans to bring him back in around 1:30 p.m. before deciding whether to seek an arrest warrant for him on Wednesday, prosecutors noted.
The prosecution is reportedly moving to bring charges of paying off an election rival against Kwak. The charges could lead to a maximum seven-year prison term or a fine of up to 30 million won, punishments that would be heavy enough to strip Kwak of his position.
During the second interrogation session, Kwak is likely to be grilled over how he financed his 200 million won gift to Park.