[EDITORIALS]Upgrade shady oil deal probe

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[EDITORIALS]Upgrade shady oil deal probe

The suspicions surrounding Korea National Railroad’s investment in a Russian oil development project are snowballing day by day. There was a rumor that a political heavyweight intervened in Korail’s decision to participate in the oil development project. It now turns out that the person who initiated participation in the development project has left the country while the Audit and Inspection Board’s investigation is ongoing.
It is confirmed that Huh Mun-seok, president of Korea Crude Oil ― a subsidiary of Korail ― left for Indonesia on Monday. Mr. Huh is known to have participated in the project at the recommendation of Uri Party Representative Lee Kwang-jae and is a high school classmate of Lee Ki-myung, the leader of Lee Kwang-jae’s supporters and an adviser to civic group People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy.
In addition, some Korea Crude Oil officials says Mr. Huh is the one who prodded Korail to undertake the project. Because he suddenly left the country, the audit board apparently can’t make progress in its investigation.
The board explained it didn’t request barring Mr. Hur from leaving the country because it interrogated him once already and he is an American. According to immigration law, the government can ask to prevent a person from leaving the country for a certain amount of time if a person is under suspicion of committing a crime.
The audit board, however, didn’t take any such measure. We wonder whether the board had the will to investigate the case thoroughly.
The most important points in this case are finding out the background of Korail’s decision to invest in the oil development project and discovering if a political heavyweight intervened.
It is difficult to understand why Korail decided to develop an oil field that the Korea National Oil Corporation gave up on because of unfavorable business prospects. It must be clarified whether the decision was Korail’s own or came as a result of outside interference. Lee Kwang-jae denies his involvement, saying, “I gave someone Mr. Huh’s telephone number, but I didn’t intervene in the oil development project.” If he came under unwarranted suspicion, a thorough investigation should vindicate him.
If the audit board’s investigation is prolonged, it is possible that evidence will be destroyed and suspicions will grow. The prosecution must launch an investigation right away.
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