[EDITORIALS]Don’t end the cash probe yet

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[EDITORIALS]Don’t end the cash probe yet

Ahn Hee-jung, an aide of President Roh Moo-hyun, has now been hit with an additional charge of having accepted 500 to 600 million won ($510,000) from Lotte Group before the presidential election in 2002. Another Blue House secretary, Yeo Taek-su, apparently accepted 300 million won from Lotte after the election. Mr. Roh might have nothing to say.
The prosecution clarified its charges about Mr. Ahn’s acceptance of money from Lotte Group. Except for contributions made in the names of executives of large companies, this is the first big bundle of money that it has said the Roh camp received from Korea’s major businesses. The investigation results disclosed up until now were called personal wrongdoings of Mr. Ahn, involving relatively small amounts, and Mr. Ahn referred to the cash as a “hometown scholarship fund.”
Now that he is found to have accepted illegal funds from Lotte, it raises the question as to whether Mr. Ahn was a political bagman. It might be difficult to explain over 500 million won as a mere scholarship fund.
If Mr. Ahn was the conduit for illegal political funding, where did the money wind up? Common sense says it might be with President Roh. A truckload of money the Grand National Party accepted from a company went to its candidate.
Nevertheless, the prosecution hinted that the investigations of Mr. Roh and Lee Hoi-chang will be suspended.
If the prosecution does not dare touch on the final destination of the money, although it is going after the middlemen, how could we say that the investigations were fair?
The illegal election funds contributed by four major business groups to the Roh camp have amounted to nothing so far, although the funds found to have been given to the Grand Nationals amounted to 72 billion won so far. With Lotte’s illegal funds given to Mr. Ahn, the cash from the five major businesses to the Roh camp is still only 500 million won, and the prosecution’s investigation is in its final stages.
If it is ended as it is, the people’s confidence in the prosecution, now recovering, will be dashed.
Not only the investigation of Mr. Roh’s election funds, but also the wrongdoings of his aides, must be pushed strongly.

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