[EDITORIALS]Cut these dark tiesThe investigation into the SK Group accounting fraud shows that the conglomerate gave some 10 billion won ($8.7 million) to politicians in return for various favors. According to the prosecutors office, the SK Group had amassed a fund of some 200 billion won for “outside purposes,” and had delivered the money on various occasions to politicians of both the governing and opposition parties during last year’s presidential election and the 2000 general elections.
The political parties proudly declared that last year’s presidential election was the cleanest ever in Korean history. The Millennium Democratic Party even revealed its campaign funds last July, declaring that it had received no more than about 150 corporate and individual donations of 1 million won or more, with the total amounting to no more than 7.1 billion won. The disclosure that a single firm spent such an enormous amount of money for political influence challenges the credibility of these declarations. If SK did it, there is no guarantee that other firms did not.
This investigation coincides with the recent tectonic shift in politics to a four-party system. Already, there are signs of this investigation being used by politicians, starting rumors that politicians received money.
The new party that was separated from the Millennium Democratic Party has pointed the finger at the Millennium Democrats. The Millennium Democrats in turn have accused the new party, formed of politicians that were the most supportive of Roh Moo-hyun during his candidacy, of trying to distract attention from the real culprits -- themselves. This investigation needs to be conducted, regardless of which parties lose or gain the most from it. Son Kil-seung, SK Group’s chairman, faces criminal charges. Mr. Son is also chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries. The dark transactions between business and politics cannot be rooted out without the firm determination of the federation. Mr. Son must decide his course of action. The prosecution must use this investigation to cut all ties between business and the politicians. All who are guilty of wrongdoing should be punished regardless of their affiliations.