[EDITORIALS]No, it won't go away

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[EDITORIALS]No, it won't go away

Does the government believe that it can wait and do nothing until the controversy over allegations that it provided secret funds to North Korea subsides? Making excuses about the legal privacy of financial transactions, the government for nearly 15 days has shunned a matter that could have been cleared up by tracking Hyundai Merchant Marine's bank accounts. Considering that the government is a lame duck amid growing political wrangling, it might be difficult to dispel suspicion even with full determination and speed. By not acting at all, it only fuels suspicion .

On Thursday, the Grand National Party asserted that the state-run Korea Development Bank's documents covering a 400 billion won ($324.7 million) loan to Hyundai Merchant Marine had been manipulated. It produced photocopies of the loan application, overdraft contract and loan receipt that were far from normal documents. The receipt was not signed by Kim Choong-shik, then president of the company, nor did it state the borrower's address. The loan contract recorded the amount of the loan as 4 billion won, not the actual 400 billion won.

The bank says such things can happen under Korean practices. What practices is it talking about? Such sloppy paperwork is unimaginable; when lenders lend just a few million won to an individual, they make sure that he goes through tough screening and signs a contract. Such dubious paperwork reinforces testimony by the bank's former chief, Uhm Rak-yong, that Mr. Kim said his company did not need to repay because it had not used the money for itself.

The government must find out the truth. Most experts hold that either the Financial Supervisory Service or the Korea Fair Trade Commission do not violate Hyundai's confidentiality if they scrutinize its accounts for illegal financial transactions or internal deals. The government's reactions only fan suspicion that the Blue House, the National Intelligence Service, the Financial Supervisory Commission and the Korea Development Bank are hiding something. If the government did not buy the historic summit meeting in 2000, there is no reason why it cannot launch investigations.
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