[EDITORIALS]Prosecutors invite suspicionsThe prosecutors have revealed that Samsung Group gave an additional 22 billion won ($19 million) in illegal campaign funds to the Grand National Party. The amount Samsung gave the main opposition party now totals 37.2 billion won. Former GNP leader Lee Hoi-chang and GNP chairman Choe Byung-yul maintained that there was nothing more to disclose in the illegal political financing scandals. Obviously, they lied. We do not know how much the GNP received in the 2002 presidential campaign.
Samsung, the biggest contributor of illegal funds, should reflect on its deeds and make a public apology. Its reputation as the biggest conglomerate in Korea, and the world’s fifth most recognized brand, is tarnished. Many people were disappointed that “even Samsung” is involved in the scandal. Samsung officials who are involved must cooperate with the prosecutors. The conglomerate needs to explain how that much money was raised, why it made illegal donations and how much damage the donations did to shareholders.
According to the prosecutors, the Grand National Party received 73.2 billion won from the five biggest conglomerates, but the Roh Moo-hyun camp received nothing. It is difficult to believe that they donated to the Grand National Party but not to the Roh camp. The prosecutors found that Hanwha Group gave 1 billion won to the Roh camp, and that Kumho Group gave them 700 million won in December 2002, when polls showed Mr. Roh in the lead. Considering the donations made by these two groups, the five largest conglomerates are not likely to have been exceptions. This shows that the prosecutors’ investigation is unfair.
Unlike in the past, the public is in full support of this investigation. Based on the facts uncovered, the prosecutors’ investigation gives rise to suspicion. One suspects that the prosecutors might be manipulating the numbers to support Mr. Roh’s statement that the Roh camp received only one-tenth of what the Grand National Party did. The prosecutors will be dealt a fatal blow if they were trying to justify an unfair investigation by exploiting people’s trust. In the end, everything will be made known. The prosecutors should be aware that they need to stand aloof from the power and stay neutral in law enforcement.