[EDITORIALS]A web of political influence

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[EDITORIALS]A web of political influence

The allegations of corruption against Lee Soo-dong, former executive director of the Kim Dae-jung Peace Foundation for the Asia-Pacific Region, are mounting. Initially, Mr. Lee was arrested for receiving kickbacks in the financial scandal involving Lee Yong-ho, but as the investigation deepened, a flood of allegations emerged, saying he exerted undue influence over the Financial Supervisory Service, the Public Prosecutors Office and the National Tax Service. He may have even asked for favorable treatment of high-ranking officials, including military officers.

A list of people seeking public posts was seized from his house by prosecutors. Included on the list is the name of a naval operations commander wishing to be promoted to navy commander-in-chief. And an admiral sought a promotion. Also found was a petition by a political junkie asking for a job. These documents show that Mr. Lee's word mattered in various parts of society.

During last year's investigation into Mr. Lee's involvement in the Lee Yong-ho financial scandal, a senior prosecutor informed him of where the investigation by the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office was headed. Mr. Lee, taking advantage of previous knowledge, ordered a witness to give false testimony. Mr. Lee confessed that he was debriefed by a senior prosecutor, a prosecutor that the prosecution cannot seem to locate. Mr. Lee is suspected of alerting Ahn Jung-nam, former commissioner of the National Tax Service, of his pending appointment as head of the central tax agency.

How could such information concerning an appointment to a core government position have been leaked to an individual who then notified the designated individual? This case is another illustration of the power and influence Mr. Lee wielded.

Given the nature of the charges and allegations against Mr. Lee, we believe that there is more to this iceberg than has been revealed. The breadth of his influence, as demonstrated by the range of potential beneficiaries, suggests that implications of corruption may not end with Mr. Lee but may involve others. The independent counsel is authorized to look into the financial scandal of Lee Yong-ho. The government should come up with measures on "Lee Soo-dong-gate," including a second independent counsel.

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