[EDITORIALS]Reopen in-law investigationThe police, who had been looking into allegations that Min Gyeong-chan, President Roh Moo-hyun’s elder brother’s relative by marriage, had illicitly amassed a great sum of money, detained Mr. Min Friday on charges of fraud. He is charged with swindling 500 million won ($428,000) from a real estate broker, supposedly by promising a contract to run a cafeteria in a hospital he planned to build. These charges hardly touch upon the bigger allegation of an illegally amassed 65.3 billion won fund, which only gives rise to more speculation.
Mr. Min’s fund became known when he himself admitted to a journalist that he had amassed over 65 billion won in two months. Yet the police are concluding the case with the explanation that Mr. Min denies amassing the money, and that no traces of large transactions were found in his accounts. What this amounts to is that the police failed even to confirm the existence of the fund by relying only on Mr. Min’s statement. And this raises speculation as to whether police are trying to downplay a case of influence peddling as mere fraud.
It is not clear why Mr. Min changed his original statement. It is said that he told the journalist about the money because he wanted to brag. Of course, it could have very well been just that. However, when he was first questioned by police, he admitted to the fund and even told them there were 47 investors in total. The fact that he had indeed been pursuing a project to build a general hospital supports the speculation that he had amassed money. Other allegations against Mr. Min were ignored by the police, such as the one that he had interfered in the appointment of a deputy ministerial-level job.
Circumstances have taught us that corruption allegations against close relatives and acquaintances of the president should be conducted more rigorously than other public inquiries. After all, we have seen more than enough corruption in the form of influence peddling. Unless we root out this evil, there can be no political reform, and with no political reform, we will never see the new politics that we so yearn to see. The prosecution must have the case transfered to its authority without delay, and begin a comprehensive reinvestigation with a closer look at Mr. Min’s financial transactions.