Lawmakers probed in rise of start-up

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Lawmakers probed in rise of start-up

The governing Millennium Democratic Party on Thursday questioned a possible collusive link between former ruling party legislators - most of who are now with the main opposition Grand National Party - and Yoon Tae-shik.

Mr. Yoon, the founder of Pass 21, a start-up firm specializing in fingerprint authentication, was recently indicted on a charge of murdering his wife, Susie Kim, in 1987. Until late this year the case had been considered a botched kidnap attempt by North Korean agents. The ruling party said leading politicians and officials of the National Intelligence Service may have helped Mr. Yoon start the firm and buoy its stock price. Why they might have helped him and how the firm grew is under preliminary investigation by the prosecution. Five Grand Nationals and three Millennium Democrats are mentioned as being involved with the firm.

Lee Nak-yon, the ruling party spokesman, said, "Mr. Yoon, who had pulled off an unbelievable fraud, was able to grow as a businessman thanks to protection and assistance from certain influential people." He added that any legislator, from either side of the aisle, who helped Mr. Yoon should come forward.

The opposition party's vice spokesman, Chang Kwang-keun, called the allegation "a foul attempt" to distract from charges of the ruling party's involvement in three ongoing corruption scandals.

Another ruling party spokesman demanded that the opposition explain why a senior GNP legislator pitched investment opportunities with Pass 21 to a group of 20 lawmakers and another GNP lawmaker invested 100 million won ($77,000) in the firm.

The opposition spokesman, Kwon Chul-hyun, played down the allegation saying, "A former finance minister with the Kim Dae-jung administration served as the firm's honorary chairman."

by Lee Yang-soo

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