[EDITORIALS]Tangled vine of corruption

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[EDITORIALS]Tangled vine of corruption

Suspicions are growing over Tiger Pools International, which owns the majority stake in Sports ToTo, the national sports lottery. The questions have been raised as the investigation into the scandal involving the president's son, Kim Hong-gul, and Choi Gyu-seon gathers steam. We heard an outcry when Tiger Pools was granted the license to run a sports lottery. Now there is talk of politicians and government officials having been bribed, the hiring of former government officials to influence the government's decision on the lottery contractor and generous stock options as bribes in disguise.

The sports lottery business is considered a cash cow. This drew a world of attention to the process of selecting a company to run it. That is why we are simply flabbergasted at the alleged corruption. We are forced to wonder what law enforcement authorities were doing when corruption surrounding the selection process apparently became ubiquitous.

A subsidiary of Posco, the steel company, withdrew its bid for the lottery business by abruptly canceling its participation in a consortium that competed with TPI. Instead, Posco bought 200,000 shares of TPI at 35,000 won ($27) per share, 10,000 won more than the market price. During the course of events Posco's chairman, Yoo Sang-boo, met Mr. Choi and Mr. Kim, and more suspicions arose when it was alleged that the first lady, Lee Hee-ho, arranged the meeting.

TPI is at the core of the connection between Mr. Kim and Mr. Choi. Mr. Choi received 2.4 billion won and 115,000 shares from TPI and shared them with Mr. Kim. Employees of TPI used an office rented by Mr. Kim's brother in law, a Mr. Hwang. Mr. Hwang's three employees held Mr. Kim's shares of TPI in their names.

There are suspicions that TPI bribed politicians, government officials and journalists. Many senior employees of TPI were hired to peddle its bid for the lottery license.

Not a single suspicion here is frivolous enough to be overlooked. They all can have politically explosive consequences. There is only one way to handle the allegations: a fair and accurate investigation based on principles.
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