New Battle on Spy Funds

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New Battle on Spy Funds

Ruling, Opposition Parties Clash Again on Transfer

Fierce partisan bickering erupted over the alleged transfer of national intelligence agency funds in 1996 to the current opposition camp at an interpellation session in the National Assembly on Friday.

In the session with Justice Minister Kim Jung-kil, ruling and opposition party members voiced their respective opinions on the results of the prosecution's investigation into the so-called slush funds. The prosecution tentatively concluded its investigation last month, saying that 119.7 billion won ($93 million) in spy agency funds was funneled to the current opposition camp, then known as the New Korea Party, before the 1996 election.

Reps. Jeon Yong-hak and Ham Seung-huie of the ruling Millennium Democratic Party, called for the return of the funds to government coffers and for Rep. Kang Sam-jae, vice president of the opposition Grand National Party and a key figure in the scandal, to appear before the prosecution.

Mr. Kang was indicted Jan. 22 for his role in the transfer. Prosecutors arrested Kim Ki-sup, former money manager at the spy agency, in January on charges that he funneled the money to Mr. Kang.

Mr. Kang steadfastly denies that he received money from the intelligence service.

Opposition lawmakers responded just as strongly to the ruling party's charges, calling for the appointment of a special counsel to look into the case.

"The strong government promised by President Kim Dae-jung is a politics of conspiracy, aimed at the current ruling party retaining its hold on power by debilitating the opposition," Rep. Nam Kyung-pil said.

In rebuttal, Justice Minister Kim summed up the prosecution's case by declaring that "of the 119.7 billion won, the government can prove that 94 billion won went into the intelligence service's budget account and that Kim Ki-sup then sent the money to Kang Sam-jae by withdrawing it and depositing it into several bank accounts."

by Lee Soo-ho

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