[EDITORIALS]Cashing in on presidential tiesMassive investment funds are reported to be pouring into an investment company set up by Min Gyeong-chan, the brother-in-law of President Roh Moo-hyun’s elder brother, Geon-pyeong. Mr. Min, an owner of a hospital in Gimpo, Gyeonggi province, set up his investment company just two months ago.
Since then, he has raised 65 billion won ($55.5 million); 7 billion won in the last week. Mr. Min is by no means an investment expert, and he had said his goal was to raise around 10 billion won. It is highly questionable whether he could have exceeded his goal this much if he had not been a relative of the president.
We are not saying that presidential family members and relatives should keep a low profile during the president’s tenure. But they need to be all the more careful, especially if they embark on business or other initiatives that may raise possible ethical questions.
In an interview with a weekly magazine, Mr. Min frankly acknowledged that some of the money invested in his company had “ulterior motives.” Motives such as, perhaps, to open a direct line to power.
Last year, Mr. Min was called as a witness to a National Assembly hearing as legislators questioned how he could have obtained 8 billion won in loans by putting up his hospital, valued at 5.6 billion won, as collateral.
He also set up his investment company at a time of shocking disclosures about illegal campaign funds and corruption charges against the president’s political aides. He should have thought about how his behavior could affect the president and then behaved more discreetly.
When the news of Mr. Min’s foray into the investment business came out, the Blue House rose up indignantly and vowed to deal with Mr. Min. In their defense, the Blue House officials said that they had warned Mr. Min two months ago.
Even a 3-year-old child knows what would happen when a president’s relative opens an investment company. So we would like to ask the Blue House exactly what other measures they took.
We have seen more than enough instances of how unchecked ambitions of presidential families and relatives can devastate the nation.
We ask that the government put a stop to it before it blows out of control.