[EDITORIALS]Uncover the factsThe independent counsel team led by Kim Jin-heung officially begins its investigation of alleged corruption by President Roh Moo-hyun’s close aides today. We cannot rule out the possibility that the president may be investigated by the special prosecutor. That shows how heavy the independent counsel’s responsibility is.
The key is uncovering if, and how deeply, Mr. Roh was involved in the corruption scandal. The prosecution recently ended its probe, disclosing that Mr. Roh accompanied two Blue House officials, Lee Kwang-jae and Yeo Taek-su, when they received money from the Sun & Moon Group. It is now the independent counsel’s job to find out to what extent Mr. Roh knew of the deal and whether he was briefed afterward or not.
Kim Seong-rae, former vice chairman of the Sun & Moon Group, reportedly said the firm provided 9.5 billion won ($7.9 million) to the Roh camp, but the allegation has not been investigated yet. It is also unknown whether the company got a tax reduction as a result of lobbying. The National Tax Service insists that a Korean letter on its tax reduction report should be read “No,” not “Roh.” That should also be investigated.
The independent counsel must also reveal the specifics of alleged ”congratulation money” given for the presidential election victory. Prosecutors said that Choi Do-sul’s taking of 1.4 billion won from SK and other firms after the election was corruption committed by an individual. But the companies probably did not give money to seek Mr. Choi’s favor. The 600 million won given to Ahn Hee-jung, another close aide of Mr. Roh, was also likely a congratulation gift.
Because Mr. Roh said his camp took no more than 10 percent of the illicit funds taken by the Grand National Party, the election fund scandal has become a politically sensitive matter. But the independent counsel must not avoid its duty. There are stones not turned over by the prosecution as it was aware that the independent counsel probe was to come. The special prosecutor must uncover all suspicions. Mr. Roh should be investigated if necessary. There should be no sacred ground.