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[Focus] Probe into NSP campaign funding strikes snag

Posted January. 08, 2001 14:47,   


The ongoing investigation into the alleged diversion of the top intelligence agency¡¯s money into the then-ruling party as campaign funds shows signs of ending as much ado about nothing.

Previous sensational scandals in 1998 also vanished like smoke without getting a true picture.

The biggest hurdles of all at the moment are the fierce resistance by the opposition Grand National Party (GNP) and the refusal of Rep. Kang Sam-Jae to appear before prosecutors for questioning about his alleged role in managing the budget of the then Agency for National Security Planning (NSP). The agency, now the National Intelligence Service, allegedly had funds diverted into the campaigns of the then-ruling New Korea Party (NKP), predecessor of the present GNP, for the 1996 general elections.

In particular, Rep. Kang is suspected of receiving 94 billion won directly from Kim Ki-Sup, former deputy director in charge of NSP operations, now under arrest, managing it and distributing it to the NKP candidates. Therefore, his information is absolutely needed to find the truth of the allegation.

The investigation is focusing on whether Kang discussed such activity with Kim Ki-Sup in advance, whether former President Kim Young-Sam and his son Hyun-Chul were involved or knew of it, whether then-NKP president Lee Hoi-Chang had prior knowledge of it, whether there was a conspiracy with officials of other parties, and who received money and how much.

But Rep. Kang openly declared that he would not comply with the prosecutors¡¯ summons, and the prosecutors have virtually no alternatives unless he comes to the prosecutor¡¯s office voluntarily. Because he is an incumbent National Assemblyman, the prosecutors need the Assembly¡¯s approval for an arrest while the Assembly is in session. An extraordinary session is to open Wednesday.

The opposition GNP appears to be determined to prevent Kang¡¯s arrest by turning down the motion for his arrest.

No GNP lawmakers allegedly involved in corruption scandals such as former lawmaker Suh Sang-Mok in the so-called tax wind scandal were arrested with the approval of the Assembly. Furthermore, arrested former NSP deputy director Kim Ki-Sup claims, ¡°I did everything,¡± keeping silent about who ordered it or on the alleged involvement of GNP members, thus frustrating prosecutors.

The ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) also is a stumbling block to the investigation because its members were continuously making remarks about the scandal, including leaking to the press the progress of the investigation, as they did in the previous political scandals.

In the event that the opposition GNP insists on defying the prosecutors¡¯ probes, public support is the only potential avenue to investigate the GNP forcibly, but such behavior by the ruling MDP members are mostly likely to undermine the justification for the investigation itself.

¡°The political world is obstructing our investigation, and we might suffer a total loss,¡± a top prosecutor said. ¡°We are determined to conclude the probe as soon as possible so as to prevent the political arena from making political capital of the case.¡±

However, the current situation does not allow an early wrapping up of the investigation because the prosecutors only have secured the materials from their probe of bank accounts and the dubious confession by former NSP deputy director Kim Ki-Sup.