[EDITORIALS]Goodmorning’s bad vibesFresh allegations sprout almost every day about the Goodmorning City development project. Politicians, including a key figure in the governing party, have been accused of receiving contributions from the developer. And the prosecution apparently, and inexplicably, put off fraud investigation for a year.
There are countless questions about how Goodmorning City Co., with just 2 billion won ($1.7 million) in capital, could acquire Hanyang Corp., a construction company worth more than 200 billion won. Quite soon, Goodmorning began selling more than 130 billion won in Hanyang properties after putting just 18 billion won down on the 230 billion won purchase price. Suspicion has grown that Goodmorning benefited by favoritism from Hanyang’s majority owner at the time, the state-run Korea National Housing Corp. And Goodmorning’s chief executive, Yoon Chang-yeol, who is in custody, has reportedly told prosecutors that he bribed politicians and bureaucrats.
The prosecution’s delay in investigating the case is suspicious. In June a year ago police investigating an extortion case involving organized crime in which Mr. Yoon was the victim learned of possible embezzlement by Mr. Yoon. But a unit of the Seoul District Prosecutors Office sat on the embezzlement case for nearly a year before passing it on to another unit. The prosecution said the controversy over the beating death of a crime suspect last year kept it from concentrating on the Yoon case, but that is a poor excuse. That happened in October, and the prosecution could have started work on the Yoon case if it had tried. Goodmorning City borrowed more than 14 billion won late last year; unless that sum is recovered fully, the delay in investigation will result in that much loss.
The prosecution should first conduct an internal audit of itself. There are allegations that prosecutors received Rolex watches from Goodmorning executives, and that some of their family members bought interests in the development project. The prosecution should also look into bribery charges against politicians and bureaucrats. It is an opportunity for the prosecution to win back some credibility.