[EDITORIALS]A classic corruption scandal

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[EDITORIALS]A classic corruption scandal

The talk of the nation is whether Chin Seung-hyun, the businessman indicted on illegal loans and share-price manipulation charges, drew up a list of names of politicians he had given money. Speculation about who may be on the list when we don't even know it exists makes the matter murkier. The Grand National Party is spreading rumors implying that it has a copy of the list. If so, the opposition party should make it public immediately and cooperate with the prosecutors. Suspicions alone will only confuse prosecutors and may change the focus of the investigation from finding out truth to humiliating high officials. Prosecutors should keep this in mind as they delve further into the case.

The so-called "Chin Seung-hyun-gate" is a classic corruption scandal in which the forces that allegedly protected Mr. Chin and those accused of receiving money from him are all powerful officials working for the Blue House, the National Intelligence Service or the governing Millennium Democratic Party. That may be why the truth of the matter has yet to be revealed although Mr. Chin was detained more than a year ago. Prosecutors should focus on finding out nothing less than the truth.

A thorough investigation into whether Shin Kwang-ok, the deputy justice minister who resigned Friday, received money from Mr. Chin would be a good start. Whether Mr. Shin received money as Blue House secretary for civil affairs could indicate the ethical standards of this administration. If he ordered the special police unit under his supervision to go easy on Mr. Chin and got him a lawyer in return for money, it could indicate that the governance system at the Blue House has fundamental problems.

Mr. Chin's suspected bribery attempts toward politicians are full of mysteries, too. If Hue In-hoe, a ruling-party parliamentary candidate who lost his bid in the last general election, received 50 million won ($39,000), as has been confirmed, then more powerful ruling-party politicians must have gotten a lot more. Representative Kim Bang-rim has been suspected of receiving 50 million won from Mr. Chin. The funds cannot be seen as political donations, because they were given to ruling-party figures by a start-up firm when the business climate was extremely bad. These and wrongdoings by in-telligence officers should be punished heavily.

Several days of investigation into "Chin-gate" have revealed many new facts, perhaps a consequence of the prosecution's attempt to minimize and cover up the case when the scandal broke a year ago. The prosecution should find out whether the delay in the investigation resulted from incompetence or outside pressure.
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