중앙데일리

[EDITORIAL] Disclose the Truth About Funds

Jan 12,2001
During his New Year's press conference, President Kim Dae-jung defined the New Korea Party's diversion of election funds from the budget of the National Security Planning Agency as "a criminal act of funneling spy-catching funds." From his confident tone, he seems to have firm evidence.

The prosecution says the 119 billion won ($95 million) that was diverted to the 1996 election came from the agency's budget, citing as evidence the national treasury checks issued in the name of an agency staff worker and the admission of Kim Ki-sup, the agency's operations director, who is in custody. However, the Grand National Party, the successor of the New Korea Party, rejects this argument, saying that the annual agency budget stood at around $500 billion, out of which 60 percent was appropriated to inflexible expenses, including wages, and that funneling a quarter of the entire budget is farfetched. Some people in the ruling camp have conjectured that the intelligence agency could have continued to receive construction expenses even after the completion of its new office compound or it could have set aside 30 billion won from its annual budget for two or three years. Others suggest that the money might have come from the president's governing expenses or the agency might have collected political funds from corporations.

If the government turned a blind eye when the agency kept receiving funds for the already completed building or set aside huge amounts of unaccountable money for some years, this case constitutes a clear embezzlement from state coffers. If the source of the funds turns out to be the president or the collection from corporations, this means that President Kim Young-sam used the nation's budget for political purposes or raised money through a separate account.

All these suspicions should be cleared. Only then can the nature of the funds be determined. The explanation of Rep. Kang Sam-jae, who holds the key as the former NKP general secretary, is far from satisfactory. He should disclose everything he knows on the matter. If he produces clear evidence that the prosecution's probe is prejudiced, we will strongly support the introduction of independent counsel.


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