Prosecution Must Be Thorough

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Prosecution Must Be Thorough

Will the prosecution be able to dispel suspicions that politicians and bureaucrats were involved in the loan scandal masterminded by Chin Seung-hyun, 27, of MCI Korea? The Korean public is becoming ever more unsettled as yet another loan scandal is revealed, hot on the heels of the Hanvit Bank and Dongbang Mutual Savings and Finance Co. cases.

The money involved in each of the two previous scandals amounted to hundreds of billions of won, which has naturally evoked a sense of disbelief and helplessness in ordinary people. Yet, the prosecution''s investigations into the two cases gave the impression that it was studiously avoiding those aspects pointing to connections with politicians and bureaucrats. It is no wonder then that many citizens are cynical about the prospects that the current inquiry will uncover anything.

The prosecution must bear the public mood in mind and carry out the investigation with the determination that everything should be revealed, leaving no room for lingering doubts.

The record of the prosecution''s investigation so far, however, raises suspicions that it is already in trouble. The prosecution launched its investigation into Mr. Chin in early September. At that time he was banned from leaving the country and the press was asked not to report on the case until the investigation results were made public. Since then, Mr. Chin has reportedly been calling his office every two or three days and rumor has it that he has been running his company from behind the scenes.

It is hard to understand how the prosecution has so far failed to arrest him. According to some reports, Mr. Chin has been seen coming and going from his own residence. If these allegations are true, we cannot help but wonder whether the prosecution is willing to look into this case as seriously as it should. It''s the same story with Ko Chang-gon, the former president of Daeyu-Regent Securities, who went into hiding after it was revealed that he was suspected of having manipulated stock prices, as was the case with Mr. Chin.

The Financial Supervisory Service notified the prosecution about the allegations against Mr. Koh on Oct. 24, but it is said that he was able to stay in his own home until early this month. The prosecution did nothing for a month, allowing him to disappear at his own leisure.

So long as the prosecution behaves in such a way it is hard to expect that they can prevent suspects from destroying evidence or colluding to come up with a plausible story.

It is no wonder that suspicions surrounding the suspects have snowballed and doubts have surfaced about whether the prosecution has deliberately looked the other way.

As with the previous cases, the key question in this investigation is whether politicians and bureaucrats were lobbied. What is of immediate interest is how the slush fund of 2 billion won was used. The concerned person has said he used it to pay off debts, but this is a doubtful claim. It is also hard to believe that a young man in his 20s could scheme and take out illegal loans amounting to over 100 billion won all on his own.

Instead of hastily concluding that the case has nothing to do with political and bureaucratic circles, the prosecution should present a convincing investigation result that will dispel all suspicions once and for all. With this kind of result in hand, the general public will be able to decide whether the opposition Grand National Party''s recent motion impeaching top prosecutors was misguided or not.

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