Roh Tae-woo spurs probe into slush fund cash

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Roh Tae-woo spurs probe into slush fund cash

Former President Roh Tae-woo has asked the prosecution to investigate his in-laws to retrieve a large sum of money from a slush fund that he entrusted to them decades ago.

Local news network Channel A reported Sunday that the 80-year-old former president had asked the prosecution to investigate Shin Myoung-soo, former chairman of the Shindongbang Group, for having spent his slush fund without his consent. The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office on Monday confirmed the case.

The financial and tax investigation team of the prosecution said it was assigned to the case after Roh filed a petition to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office on June 1. In the petition, Roh argued that Shin had used money that he entrusted without his consent, thus committing a breach of trust.

According to the prosecution, Roh said he wants to retrieve the money from Shin to pay off the remainder of the fines he owes the nation. In 1997, the Supreme Court convicted Roh for his role in a 1979 military coup, which put his predecessor Chun Doo Hwan into power, for killing hundreds of democracy protesters during crackdowns and for accepting massive bribes from the country’s businessmen. Roh was ordered to serve a 17-year prison term and pay 262.8 billion won ($224.7 million) in fines.

Although he was granted a pardon in December 1997, Roh is still responsible for the massive fine.

So far, Roh paid 91.2 percent of the 262.8 billion won. The remaining balance is 23.1 billion won.

During its investigation into Roh’s bribe-taking in 1995, the prosecution uncovered 23 billion won of slush funds of the former president held by the Shindongbang Group. But Roh said at the time it was Sindongbang’s money.
A court later determined the money was part of a slush fund and confiscated it. But Roh says Shin must have made considerable profits from the funds over the years, and he is asking for a refund of 65.4 billion won.

Roh asked the prosecutors to support his attempt to reclaim the balance of 42.4 billion won.

If Roh retrieves all 42.4 billion won from Shin and pays off his fine, the former president will be left with 19.3 billion won. It remains unclear whether Roh will be able to keep it or the state will claim it.

Roh’s decision to belatedly reveal the existence of the hidden slush fund after decades appeared to be linked with the ongoing divorce suits between his son and Shin’s daughter. They were married in 1990 but recently filed divorce suits in Hong Kong and Seoul.

The Democratic United Party condemned Roh’s move.

“Roh asked the prosecution to launch an investigation into his in-law for having spent his slush fund without consent,” Representative Lee Un-ju, a spokeswoman of the DUP, said Monday. “We want to ask where the money came from. We are stunned by Roh’s brazen-faced move to reveal his slush funds to demand a probe.”

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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