By NED BERKOWITZ and LEE FERRAN
The Florida socialite who sparked an investigation that brought down CIA head David Petraeus will be relieved of her ceremonial position as honorary consul for South Korea because she allegedly tried to “peddle influence” and profit off business deals there, a top South Korean official said today.
According to South Korea’s semi-official Yonhap News Agency, South Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Kyou-hyun said, “It is not suitable to the status of honorary consul that [she] sought to be involved in commercial projects and peddle influence.”
Kyou-hyun’s comments come in the wake of allegations from New York businessman Adam Victor that Kelly had claimed she had access to top Korean officials and could help him land a multi-billion dollar gasification deal, as detailed in emails from Kelley obtained exclusively by ABC News. Victor said that when Kelley asked for an exorbitant $80 million broker’s fee, the request prompted him to “terminate [their] relationship.”
The Yonhap report also says that South Korean officials had appointed Kelley to the honorary consul position in August “at the recommendation of Petraeus” – an apparent corroboration of a claim Victor says Kelley made to him when they discussed the gasification deal.
“Ms. Kelley made it clear to me that Gen. Petraeus put her in this position, and that’s why she was able to have access to such senior levels [of the Korean government,” Victor told ABC News earlier this month. Victor claimed Kelley said “that they were essentially doing a favor for Gen. Petraeus, and that she had access solely because of her relationship with Gen. Petraeus.”
In a previous ABC News report, Steve Boylan, a friend and former spokesperson for Petraeus, said it was “nonsense” that Petraeus had any part in the gasification deal. “He knows nothing about it,” Boylan said. “What other people do, he can’t control.” Another source told ABC News that Petraeus had asked Kelley to stop throwing his name around.
A close friend of Kelley’s, Tampa real estate developer Don Phillips, said he didn’t believe Kelley tried to profit from her connection with Petraeus, saying “There’s no dark plot here. There’s no conspiracy. There is no grand crime.”
Kelley was thrust into the international spotlight earlier this month when she was identified as the woman who sparked an FBI investigation that eventually led to Petraeus’ resignation from the CIA. Months ago Kelley told an FBI friend that she had been receiving harassing emails from an anonymous sender. Agents with the FBI tracked the messages to Paula Broadwell, Petraeus’ biographer, and in the course of investigating Broadwell, discovered that Petraeus and Broadwell were having an affair.
The FBI notified the White House of the affair a day after President Obama was reelected and Obama accepted Petraeus’ resignation two days later.