[EDITORIALS]Explosive bank accounts

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[EDITORIALS]Explosive bank accounts

The independent counsel's office has confirmed that Kim Sung-whan laundered several billions of won through bank accounts held in another's name. The discovery was made during its investigation into the corruption case of Lee Yong-ho.

The independent counsel gave no specifics, though, saying that the investigation is continuing.

The office is, however, suggesting that the case is explosive. Special prosecutors have whispered excitedly that the money is "an amount one will never see in his lifetime."

The way Mr. Kim managed the borrowed-name bank accounts and the laundering were reportedly very methodical and professional.

Mr. Kim is a high school buddy and an ROTC colleague of Kim Hong-up, President Kim Dae-jung's second son. He has been defying a summons by prosecutors who would like to know whether he requested former Prosecutor General Shin Seung-nam to go easy on the initial investigation into Mr. Lee. A week ago, the independent counsel found that Mr. Kim withdrew 100 million won ($75,000) from a bank account in the name of a street cleaner. The money was delivered to Kim Hong-up in his role as vice chairman of the Kim Dae-jung Peace Foundation. A portion of the money was given to the foundation's former executive director, Lee Soo-dong, and his wife. Lee Soo-dong has been closely associated with President Kim and his wife, Lee Hee-ho, since the late 1960s.

Owning a bank account in a borrowed name and money laundering are criminal acts. Because of those activities, Mr. Kim has raised many questions about the accounts and the way they were managed - questions that the independent counsel must look into thoroughly.

But the counsel has to hurry to clear this matter up; its mandate is nearing an end. He should find out the amount, the owner and the uses of the money Mr. Kim managed. On issues that lie beyond its jurisdiction, it should turn the matter over to the prosecution.

The best solution would be for Mr. Kim to appear voluntarily to be questioned by the prosecution. Kim Hong-up should cooperate with the prosecution if he is innocent. Should the mystery be left hanging, the burden inevitably will fall on President Kim Dae-jung.
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