[EDITORIALS]A disappointing probeThe prosecution announced the outcome of its investigation into corruption involving President Roh Moo-hyun’s close aides, but the result was extremely disappointing.
Prosecutors said the aides received about 4.1 billion won ($3.4 million) of illegal money, excluding 1.9 billion won given as the price for a parcel of land in Yongin. The prosecutors failed to clarify more serious allegations, such as the receipt of large sums as congratulatory gifts for winning the presidency.
According to the prosecutors, Lee Kwang-jae, former Blue House secretary, received 100 million won from Moon Byeong-ok, chairman of the resort company Sun & Moon, in November last year, and Mr. Roh, then a presidential candidate, was present at the meeting just before the money was handed over. And yet the prosecution said it was inappropriate to investigate the president at the moment because it was able to gain an understanding of the situation by questioning others involved in the matter.
Mr. Roh had said he would submit to questioning if necessary. The prosecution should have investigated the matter fully, through written inquiries to Mr. Roh, in order to verify how much he knew, or if he was briefed afterward.
The prosecution viewed the sale of land in Yongin owned by Lee Gi-myeong, the leader of Mr. Roh’s supporters, as a way to provide political funds. Kang Geum-won, the president of Changshin Textile Co. and a major financial backer of Mr. Roh, and Ahn Hee-jung, Mr. Roh’s close aide, planned to pay the debts of a spring water company partly owned by Mr. Roh, by selling the land. Mr. Roh was briefed about the plan beforehand, the prosecution said.
At the early stage of their probe, prosecutors vowed to allay all suspicions. When the prosecution questioned Choi Do-sul, a former Blue House secretary, the public kept its hope. But the outcome fell short of our expectations. The independent counsel team led by Kim Jin-heung is now in charge of clearing up all the remaining doubts. No allegation must be sacred from their investigation this time, in order to remove all suspicion.