Roh wants limit to a new probe of cash-summit

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Roh wants limit to a new probe of cash-summit

President Roh Moo-hyun yesterday said that he would veto any bill to set up a new independent counsel to look into the cash-for-summit scandal. He said that any new counsel authorized by the opposition-controlled National Assembly should be limited in scope to only the question of an alleged 15-billion-won ($12.5 million) bribe to a senior aide of former President Kim Dae-jung.
The Grand National Party has much bigger plans for a new counsel, according to the terms of draft legislation now before the Assembly, and the president’s comments amounted to a pre-emptive veto of the opposition’s plans.
Near the end of its 70-day lifespan ― the counsel was disbanded Wednesday ― Song Doo-hwan and his team were told by Lee Ik-chi, a former head of Hyundai Securities Co., that he had given 15 billion won to Park Jie-won, then Mr. Kim’s culture minister and later his chief of staff. Critics charge that the money was a bribe for business favors and political use.
Speaking at a meeting with Blue House senior secretaries and aides, Mr. Roh took care to signal his acceptance of a more modest investigation limited to that case. “I would accept it,” he said of a counsel empowered to look further into the charges against Mr. Park. “But if they envisage a wider scope of inquiry and plan to use that issue as tool for partisan fighting, I will have to veto it.”
Mr. Roh reminded his staff that when he refused to extend the Song Doo-hwan independent counsel’s team’s investigation, he made it clear that he was willing to accept the National Assembly’s preference as to who should investigate the new bribery charges, suggesting that it could be either the prosecution or a counsel with a narrow mandate.
The outgoing counsel said Wednesday that the Kim administration promised to give $100 million to the North Korean regime in connection with the 2000 inter-Korean summit, but later asked Hyundai Asan Corp. to shoulder the cost in addition to a $350 million payment from the Hyundai Group to Seoul’s cross-border rival government.
“It is not desirable for the Assembly to engage in another lengthy fight over a new independent counsel,” Mr. Roh said.” The Assembly should decide quickly, and the opposition should cooperate in passing public-welfare bills.”

by Choi Hoon

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