[EDITORIALS]Letting the Blue House off

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[EDITORIALS]Letting the Blue House off

The Board of Audit and Inspection concluded yesterday that the Haengdam island development project was an incident in which a less-than-capable private investor became involved in an improper business undertaking on the part of the Korea Highway Corporation. The board asked prosecutors to investigate four figures, including the president of a development company and a former president of the highway corporation.
But the board did not ask the prosecution to investigate three Blue House figures deeply involved in the case. It said that the charges against Jeong Chan-yong, former Blue House senior secretary for personnel affairs, Moon Chung-in, former chairman of the Presidential Committee on Northeast Asian Cooperation Initiative, and Jung Tae-in, former national economy secretary, were not serious enough to be prosecuted.
The board had said, “We will do a thorough review.” Now the results of its investigation are disappointing. We believe the board attempted to protect close aides of President Roh Moo-hyun, as it did when it reviewed the scandal concerning the Korea Railroad’s botched Russian oil deal.
The board’s defense of the three Blue House aides is pathetic. It said there is no evidence that Mr. Jeong received bribes, even though he abused his authority in the case. As for Mr. Moon and Mr. Jung, the board said they may be disciplined, but that they do not have to take further responsibility, since they voluntarily resigned from their positions. The board’s main function is to thoroughly investigate abuses of authority by government officials, but it seems only to be concerned about sparing them criminal punishment.
These officials’ actions, including signing a memorandum of understanding, writing a recommendation letter and supporting fundraising for the project, need to be judged by the judiciary. The board does not have the power to excuse them on the judiciary’s behalf. The board should consider the case of Uri Party lawmaker Lee Kwang-jae, who was involved in the Russian oil scandal. He was not a subject of the board’s review, but eventually was investigated by the prosecution.
Now prosecutors have the key to uncover the truth. Why did the highway corporation exceed its mandate by getting involved in a resort construction project? Why did a private investor frequently visit the Blue House? The investigation should go beyond merely concluding that these were nothing more than improprieties on the part of Blue House officials.
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