[EDITORIALS]A fast and fair investigationThe prosecutors have raided the offices of Lone Star, a U.S. private equity fund manager.
The move could be interpreted as the determination of the investigators not to overlook illegal activities simply because of an institution’s nationality.
Lone Star is in a situation in which it is charged with evading taxes and illegally repatriating funds. Moreover, Lone Star is not particularly popular, as it is expected to make a profit of 4 trillion won (about $4 billion) from the sale of Korea Exchange Bank.
It is obvious that the prosecutors must conduct a thorough investigation, given the suspicions raised. The investigation, however, must proceed fairly and transparently, based on objective truth. It must not be influenced by the public sentiment. Financial institutions in Korea and abroad are closely watching the investigation.
The investigation must be careful to prevent criticism that the government is discriminating against foreign funds.
The prosecutors said they are centering the investigation on tax evasion and the illegal transfer of capitals overseas.
However, the investigation could expand due to allegations that Korea Exchange Bank was sold at an extremely low price.
The prosecutors have seized more than 70 boxes of files. If Lone Star’s alleged wrongdoings are unraveled, the impact might be huge.
This could turn into a situation in which the sale of Korea Exchange Bank would have to be reviewed from the beginning.
The investigation into the allegations of tax evasion should be approached with particular caution, closely following legal and international standards.
This is an issue that could stir international conflict and make Korea unattractive to foreign investors. Politicians, however, are pressuring the investigators while arguing that the 4 trillion won is “lost national wealth.”
Some in the Uri Party have even irrationally insisted that the reason behind the economic polarization is this losing of national wealth.
Lone Star should not be blindly criticized for making a huge profit. The sale of Korea Exchange Bank is not a case of losing national wealth but rather the result of incompetence and policy failures. It is an issue that we should reflect on by ourselves and not vent our anger entirely on Lone Star.
The prosecutors should be fast and thorough at times like this to prevent any negative side effects.