Roh wants his slush fund back to pay fine: Wife

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Roh wants his slush fund back to pay fine: Wife

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Kim Ok-sook

The wife of former President Roh Tae-woo has asked Prosecutor General Chae Dong-wook to help her husband recover a massive slush fund he used to control in order to pay a fine owed to the government.

Kim Ok-sook, 78, wrote a letter to Chae saying, “I sincerely ask the prosecution to claw back my husband’s property, which is currently held by his brother and Shin [Myoung-soo ] so we can pay back the fine we owe the country in time.”

The prosecution confirmed to the JoongAng Ilbo Thursday night that it received the one page letter from the wife of Roh, 81.

“Since my husband’s health condition has been deteriorating since 2007, he has been trying to pay back the fine,” Kim was quoted as saying in the letter.

Both Roh and his strongman predecessor Chun Doo Hwan were convicted of accepting bribes and accumulating slush funds during their presidencies. In 1997, the Supreme Court ordered both to pay massive fines to show contrition for the corruption during their rules.

Chun was ordered to pay 220.5 billion won ($196 million) but he has paid less than 25 percent. Chun’s deadline is Oct. 11.

Roh was ordered to pay 262.8 billion won and he has paid about 91 percent over the last 15 years. His deadline is also Oct. 11. He owes 23.1 billion won to the country.

In 2001, when the Ministry of Justice filed a lawsuit to collect the fine from Roh, the Supreme Court said that about 12 billion won of Roh’s slush fund was being controlled by his younger brother Roh Jae-woo and about 23 billion won was controlled by Shin Myoung-soo, the former chairman of ShinDongBang Group who was once the father-in-law of Roh’s son. The prosecution collected about 5.2 billion won from the younger brother and about 5.1 billion won from Shin.

“We had lawsuits against his younger brother and Shin to take back my husband’s assets to pay the fine but we lost those lawsuits,” Kim wrote in her letter. “We will not take a penny of those funds if the prosecution confiscates them.”

Kim may have written the prosecution because of recent awkward news reports about her husband and his slush funds. When the National Tax Service investigated Aurora CS, a logistics company established with Roh’s slush fund and currently owned by his younger brother, it discovered 3.03 billion won was allegedly being held in bank accounts in the name of Roh’s chauffeur.

There is speculation that Roh actually controls the money. Roh’s family denies it.


BY LEE GA-YOUNG, SHIM SAE-ROM [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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