[EDITORIALS]A halfway jobThe Supreme Prosecutors Office announced yesterday the results of a new investigation into Nara Merchant Bank’s efforts to bribe Kim Dae-jung administration officials. The prosecution reopened the case in early April after the inauguration of President Roh Moo-hyun, and indicted seven persons, including President Kim’s eldest son, Kim Hong-il. But the prosecution decided not to detain Kim Hong-il or Ahn Hee-jung, President Roh’s aide.
The investigation was partly successful in that it confirmed the allegations that the Bosung Group handed bribes to a large number of officials and politicians of the Kim Dae-jung administration in an effort to salvage its failing financial company. But allegations had been circulating since last year that Han Kwang-ok and Representative Park Joo-sun of the Millennium Democratic Party, among others, received bribes from Nara. The prosecution avoided investigating the case last year and only took up the case after the new administration came into power.
The prosecution says it could not start an investigation based just on rumors and without testimony from the individuals involved. It also says the lead prosecutor who would have handled the case was preoccupied with another important case. That is a phony excuse. If the prosecution had the will, it could have assigned another lead prosecutor to the case and traced the bank accounts of suspects in order to obtain evidence.
The prosecution agreed with Mr. Ahn’s contention that he acted alone. It also says there is no need for an investigation into whether President Roh was involved in the events that took place long before he was inaugurated. But what are we to make of witnesses’ assertions that they gave money to Mr. Ahn knowing his ties to Mr. Roh? In the past, President Roh said on national television that Mr. Ahn was going through the ordeal because of him.
The prosecution is not properly handling Mr. Ahn’s case in fear of the president, just as it did during the Kim Dae-jung administration. Does this case have to wait until another new president comes into the office?