[EDITORIALS]Show us the money

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[EDITORIALS]Show us the money

Lee Keun-young, chairman of the Financial Supervisory Commission, said Monday that the tracing of accounts of Hyundai Merchant Marine to see where the overdraft loan of 400 billion won ($322 million) went is not possible. He said that, for the protection of such basic rights as privacy and property rights, the Real Name Financial Transactions Act should not be applied out of convenience or interpreted arbitrarily.

The Act on Real Name Financial Transactions and the Guarantee of Secrecy have adopted a system of enumerating the cases which the tracing of accounts are permissible. We understand that the permission for tracing should be issued indiscreetly and an expanded application should be banned. However, the money in question is directly connected to the people's right to know. If the loan to a private business by a state bank has flown secretly to the aid of North Korea, it is in violation of the "real name transactions" stipulated by the act. Since the loan of 400 billion won has become a national issue, the Financial Supervisory Commission and the Financial Supervisory Service should trace the use of money to the satisfaction of people who demand the truth. When the flow of money is cleared, the suspicions will disappear. Without tracing the accounts, audits and inspections of Hyundai won't turn up the whereabouts of the money.

Since it is confirmed that Hyundai Merchant Marine did not include 300 billion won borrowed from the Korea Development Bank in its semi-annual financial report for 2000, it is possible to trace Hyundai's accounts to determine whether there was fraudulent bookkeeping. Also, if the money was diverted to one of the companies of Hyundai Group, the Fair Trade Commission should trace the accounts to verify whether there was internal trade in violation of the Fair Trade Law. Mr. Lee's interpretation of the law is too narrow.

What matters most is not legal interpretations, but whether there is the will to find the truth. Mr. Lee, who was the governor of the Korea Development Bank when 400 billion won was loaned to Hyundai, should come clean.
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