[EDITORIALS]Find the money trailThe Supreme Public Prosecutors Office announced its preliminary findings in the investigation of a bribery case involving Hyundai Asan Corp. and the Millennium Democratic Party after indicting the party’s former supreme council member, Kwon Roh-kap.
The prosecutors office alleged that Mr. Kwon had received 20 billion won ($16.7 million) from Asan through Kim Yeong-wan, a fugitive arms dealer, for the party’s 2000 legislative election campaign in exchange for permits for Asan to run a casino and duty free shop at the Mount Geumgang tourist facilities in North Korea.
Mr. Kim, the prosecutors office said, hid the money at his house and delivered a total of 15 billion won to Mr. Kwon’s house on several trips, keeping 5 billion won at his house. The prosecutors also announced that they are now investigating leads possibly pointing to Mr. Kwon’s having received almost as much money from another firm, indicating that the inquiry is far from over.
The results of this investigation show that Mr. Kwon, one of former President Kim Dae-jung’s closest aides, had consorted with firms to collect political donations.
Mr. Kim, the arms dealer, the prosecutors office announced, was the middleman not only for Mr. Kwon but for various other figures in the Kim Dae-jung administration, including a former presidential chief-of-staff, Park Jie-won. Mr. Kim claimed that his house had been robbed last March and that some 9 billion won was taken.
How the 15 billion won Mr. Kim gave to Mr. Kwon was spent is still unknown. Mr. Kwon told prosecutors that he borrowed 11 billion won and gave it to Kim Ok-doo, the former secretary-general of the Millennium Democratic Party to hand out to party members shortly before the last general elections. Kim Ok-doo claimed that he had handed out all the money to those in Seoul and the Yeongnam region.
This inquiry must be used to cut all ties between business and politics. Prosecutors must find the money trail, and the Millennium Democratic Party must help.