[EDITORIALS]Resolving the Choi caseChoi Do-sul, a longtime aide of President Roh Moo-hyun and a former secretary of general affairs at the Blue House, has been detained since yesterday on charges of receiving a 1.1 billion won ($960,000) bribe from SK Group.
Therefore, Mr. Choi’s bribery case, which was the reason for Mr. Roh to call a vote of public confidence that put the nation in utter confusion, is now moving to a new phase.
According to the prosecutors office, Mr. Choi first entrusted the certificate of deposit that he received from SK Group to a banker who was senior to him in high school. Mr. Choi later allegedly used 390 million won to repay debts from last year’s presidential election and paid 100 million as a research fund for the school senior’s wife. The prosecutors said that they were investigating how the remaining 610 million won was spent.
The president may feel responsible that Mr. Choi, who has been his aide for 20 years, has even been suspected of such a crime. But, looking at the detention warrant, it is ambiguous whether the case was entirely Mr. Choi’s personal scandal or if the president was involved. For that reason it is hard to understand why Mr. Roh asked for the public confidence vote when the investigation hasn’t even suggested that he was involved.
The priority now is to clarify where Mr. Choi used the remaining money. Only then can we decide how much responsibility Mr. Roh must assume. Additionally, the prosecutors should investigate whether Mr. Choi received further bribes. The first bribery reportedly took place in December, and there is some suspicion that he met the chairman of SK Group, Son Kil-seung, again in February.
At the time, Mr. Choi was named as Blue House secretary of general affairs and the SK Group was under prosecutors’ scrutiny for possible accounting fraud.
Regarding Mr. Choi’s case, the three opposition parties indicate the possibility of appointing an independent counsel or opening a legislative investigation. Therefore, the prosecutors should clarify everything thorough so that no further demands for an independent counsel will be raised.