Meeting behind doors

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Meeting behind doors

Controversy is brewing over former Prosecutor General Kim Joon-kyu’s meeting with SLS Group Chairman Lee Kuk-chul, who was on trial for illegal lobbying. The man who arranged Lee’s meeting with the Kim, who was prosecutor general at the time, was Daeyoung Logics CEO Moon Hwan-chul, a lobbyist who was recently arrested on charges of having received 780 million won ($670,000) from Lee for his lobbying activities. Lee had confessed to the press that he met several high officials at the Prosecutors’ Office.

Responding to Lee’s remarks, Kim explained that he had met with Lee in order to weigh the situation involving Lee’s illicit lobbying scandal as part of his job as head of the prosecution. There were wild rumors about the prosecution’s investigation into SLS Group’s lobbying for business favors, and prosecutors were facing a tough time, so he needed to accurately assess the situation to deal with the corruption case properly, he said. He also pointed out that it is inappropriate for the press to harm the prosecution’s reputation by insinuating that the prosecutor general engaged in a secret deal with Lee.

However, what is really inappropriate is the prosecutor general’s suspicious behavior. Even if we believe what Kim says, it is against common sense for a prosecutor general to directly contact a defendant on trial. The prosecutor general is the head of the entire prosecution. It’s not a post to which people address civil complaints.

Moreover, the defendant is the chairman of a big company who spent hundreds of millions of won for his lobbying activities. So the prosecutor general’s direct contact with a defendant under such circumstances makes us suspicious of the real motive behind the meeting. It is hard to believe that Kim - who spent more than two decades as a prosecutor - didn’t know the basic fact that all corruption begins over an “accidental dinner” with a “reliable friend” who introduced the person in need of some help.

Lee claimed that he lobbied as many as 13 prosecutors. But the prosecution has reached a tentative conclusion that Lee’s illegal lobbying of a multitude of prosecutors has no substance, citing that Lee only met two prosecutors - including Prosecutor General Kim - and that other prosecutors were approached by Moon Hwan-chul, the lobbyist recently arrested by the prosecution. But it’s almost impossible to believe what the prosecution says, particularly now that we know that Prosecutor General Kim turned out to have a private meeting with a defendant on trial in a court.
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