중앙데일리

Ex-President Roh makes confession

Says his ‘home’ took funds from bribery suspect because it faced debts  PLAY AUDIO

Apr 08,2009
A placard depicting former President Roh Moo-hyun hangs yesterday against the backdrop of Roh’s residence in Bongha Village, Gimhae, South Gyeongsang, where he has lived since his retirement in February 2008. [YONHAP]
Following the arrest of a key aide, former President Roh Moo-hyun yesterday admitted to receiving money from Park Yeon-cha, a Busan-based businessman whose confession to a massive network of bribery has shaken the nation over the past months.

Roh posted the statement at 3:28 p.m. on his Web site, apologizing for troubling the country over the bribe money issues touching him and his associates.

“I want to make public something in advance,” Roh wrote. “Right now, Chung Sang-moon, former Blue House secretary, is being questioned on charges of receiving money from Park. I am concerned that Chung might have testified that he had actually done so. The accusation should be directed toward us, not Chung.

“My home made the request, received money and used it,” the former president confessed. “We have done so because we still had outstanding debts.”

Roh wrote that he will cooperate with the prosecution’s investigation and testify concerning details. “I will face legal action in accordance with the case. I apologize again,” he wrote.

Following Roh’s statement, prosecutors began mulling when to summon the former president. Because of the statement, “it becomes inevitable for us to question him directly,” said a source at the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office.

Prosecutors were also discussing the possibility of summoning Roh’s wife, Kwon Yang-sook, because the former president mentioned his home in his apology. According to a source close to Roh, what he meant by “home” was his wife, taking into account the common usage of the word in the Gyeongsang region. “You can interpret it that Kwon had received Park’s money through Chung and used it,” the aide said.

Roh posted the apology on his Web site’s bulletin board yesterday afternoon, following the arrest of his key aide in the morning. The Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office took Chung Sang-moon into custody at around 8 a.m. to question him about the allegation that he had received illegal money from Park.

Chung, who served as the Roh Blue House’s administrative affairs secretary, was accused of receiving up to 300 million won ($226,843) from Park from 2005 to 2006 while he was serving at the presidential office. The prosecutors suspect that the money was handed over to Roh or the first lady at the time. Chung, 63, is Roh’s long-time friend who had served as his family’s de facto butler. The two met in the 1970s when they studied together for the bar exam. Roh and Chung are the same age and hail from the same hometown.

While Roh pursued a legal profession, Chung became a public servant. Chung once served in the Seoul city government when President Lee Myung-bak was mayor.

Following the arrest of Choi Do-sul for corruption in 2003, Chung was appointed to the post of administrative affairs secretary at the Blue House and served there until Roh’s term ended. While admitting to having received money from Park, the former president distanced himself from a case involving another relative and the chairman of the shoemaker Taekwang Industrial.

In his posting, Roh added an explanation about another sum of money that his niece’s husband, Yeon Cheol-ho, received from Park. Roh said he learned about it after his term ended, but did not take any special action because he regarded it as a legitimate investment and the deal took place after his retirement. Roh wrote, “I hope the truth will be laid bare during the investigation.”

Following Roh’s public apology, the Grand National Party wasted no time in attacking the former president. “Roh has confessed that he had lied about his transparency during his presidential term,” GNP spokesman Yoon Sang-hyun said. “The truth about the black money dealing between Roh and the people surrounding the former president must be exposed in full.”

The Lee Myung-bak Blue House remained silent about the issue.

Meanwhile, the Daejeon District Prosecutors’ Office sought a warrant to detain Kang Geum-won, the president of Changshin Textile and a key fund raiser for Roh, on charges of embezzlement, tax evasion and violating political funding laws. Kang is suspected of pressuring Taekwang Industrial Chairman Park in 2007 to provide money for a business linked to Roh. “We need to check on something,” Hong Man-pyo, senior prosecutor of the Supreme Public Prosecutors’ Office, said yesterday, indicating that Kang will be questioned by his office.



By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]



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