Clearing Up Suspicion

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Clearing Up Suspicion

Amid an investigation into the alleged pressures on the Hanvit Bank to grant loans, our attention is drawn to another suspicion that an enormous amount of money flowed into political circles before and after the 1996 general elections. The Central Investigation Department of the Supreme Public Prosecutor's Office reportedly discovered that a huge amount of money was deposited and then withdrawn from the bank account of the son of Representative Hwang Myung-soo, the then vice chairman of the election committee of the New Korea Party, the predecessor of the Grand National Party. The prosecution is said to have discovered the transaction while tracing money used for lobbying for the Seoul-Pusan high-speed railroad. Rumors abound that the fund amounted to tens of billions of won, that it came from an account of the Agency for National Security Planning, and that it was delivered to then-ruling party lawmakers.
A thorough investigation is essential. If the rumors are found to be true, the flow of money is likely to have involved illegal transactions. The prosecution must investigate this, and if the law was broken, the culprits must be brought to justice regardless of their affiliations.
Many people wonder about the sudden euruption of these rumors. They believe that the prosecution's probe may be a tactic to divert the public attention away from the Hanvit bank loan case. It is indeed strange that this new problem came to light on the very day when important figures -- former presidential secretary for legal affairs Park Joo-sun and Choi Soo-byung, former director of the Korea Credit Guarantee Fund -- were summoned for interrogation and only a few days before former Culture and Tourism Minister Park Jie-won, the key figure in the bank loan scandal, is scheduled to be called. The railroad lobbying case dates from several months ago, and the defendants in the first trial have been already sentenced. It is indeed strange that tidbits, not the entire picture, are leaking out little by little.
The prosecution has, in fact, failed to be independent and is getting a bad reputation for becoming involved in political activity. To recover its credibility, the prosecution must launch a thorough investigation and lay bare the truth to the satisfaction of the public. In particular, in order not to leave any doubts behind, the prosecution must reveal the entire truth about the amounts of money involved, where it came from and how it was spent.

by Kim Young-hei

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