[EDITORIALS]Roh and campaign financesIn court yesterday, a statement was made that suggests President Roh Moo-hyun was directly involved in a transaction involving land in Yongin, Gyeonggi province, owned by Lee Gi-myeong, the head of Mr. Roh’s supporters’ group. Kang Geum-won, the chairman of Changshin Textile, Co., is on trial for violating campaign finance laws. Yesterday, he testified in court, “Around the time when Mr. Roh was running in his party’s elections to choose a presidential candidate, Mr. Roh told me, ‘I want you to buy the land.’”
Mr. Kang’s statement yesterday differs from the report by prosecutors that Ahn Hee-jung and Choi Do-sul, Mr. Roh’s aides, told Mr. Roh of their plan to sell the Yongin land to pay off debts incurred by Jangsucheon, a spring water bottling company that Mr. Roh once ran.
In a press conference last May, Mr. Roh said, “It is true that the transaction in the Yongin land was conducted on more favorable terms than others. But we did not receive unwarranted profits through the transaction.” But last month, the prosecution said the transaction was actually an elaborate cover-up to conceal campaign fund loans made to the Roh camp. Still, the Blue House continued to resist a prosecution investigation, saying that the transaction was no problem. They have deceived the public.
The statement that Mr. Roh asked Mr. Kang to make the transaction rebuts the claim that Mr. Roh only received a report from his aides on the deal. Considering Mr. Roh’s relationship with Mr. Kang, his request to buy the land was a de facto request to commit an illegal act, and Mr. Roh cannot evade legal charges. Mr. Roh must confess everything and offer an apology.
We also doubt the information known now about the amount of illegal campaign money the Roh camp used. The prosecution says the Grand National Party used 53 billion won ($45 million) and the Roh camp used only 5 billion won in illegal money. But it appears that the businesses that provided money to the Roh camp are staying silent, fearing possible retaliation from the administration.
Mr. Roh should help the prosecution’s investigation and rid himself of the criticism that the prosecutors are treating him with kid gloves.