Appointing a special prosecutorThe political scandal from bribery allegations by Kim Bong-hyun, founder of Lime Asset Management, has sprawled in the entirely opposite direction in favor of the ruling Democratic Party (DP) and the Moon Jae-in administration. Kim has suddenly changed his testimony about handing over 50 million won ($43,763) intended for Kang Ki-jung — a former senior presidential secretary for political affairs — by claiming that he made the comment at the persuasion of his lawyer who used to be a prosecutor.
Kim was suggesting that the prosecution and his lawyer colluded to damage the government and give more power to Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl. Kim claimed he entertained three prosecutors in a hostess bar, including one who had been involved in the financial fraud case involving Lime Asset Management. He claimed he had testified about giving bribes to opposition lawmakers but that the prosecution did not investigate further.
Justice Minister Choo Mi-ae immediately ordered an internal probe of prosecutors. The Justice Ministry criticized Prosecutor General Yoon for his bias in the stalled investigation into the corruption charges on prosecutors and members of the opposition People Power Party (PPP). Yoon strongly protested a “defamatory campaign” against him. Choo and Yoon are in yet another face-off after the conflict over the media-prosecutor collusion scandal.
The DP is demanding the case be turned over to a new anticorruption investigation agency, which is yet to be launched. The extraordinary law enforcement body aimed at investigating corruption among high government officials cannot take off unless its chief and prosecutors are appointed. Moreover, as Lime Asset Management and Optimus Asset Management are basically involved in financial fraud, it is inappropriate for the special agency to step into the realm of private equity funds.
Still, whether prosecutors were really entertained by Kim, whether the prosecution knew of a bribery attempt on an opposition lawmaker or whether Prosecutor General Yoon had been briefed about the affair should be investigated. The names in the DP and Blue House must be investigated.
A special prosecutor can investigate the cases free from political and internal influence. The cases should be placed under a neutral legal expert. Few would believe any findings from the prosecution. The rivaling parties must discuss appointing a special prosecutor immediately.