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[Editorial] Suspicion on Ahn Jung-Nam to Be Kept Secret?

[Editorial] Suspicion on Ahn Jung-Nam to Be Kept Secret?

Posted January. 22, 2002 09:26,   


Ahn Jung-Nam, the former Minister of Construction and Transportation, has disappeared. Who is he? He directed the tax investigation on the press in the name of `Tax Justice` as the commissioner of the National Tax Service, and was promoted to the minister of MCT. But he could not complete one month of his term and resigned due to suspicions around his possessing real estate valued at billions of won.

Confronted with a suspicion that was serious enough to get him fired as minister, he found shelter in a hospital. And now he has gone abroad secretly and is missing, but no governmental organization is paying any attention to his case. Are inspection offices too negligent to pursue Mr. Ahn or looking away to cover up the suspicion?

The suspicion on Mr. Ahn is a matter of national interest. In the inspection of the government offices last year, there were suspicions raised about Mr. Ahn`s △ speculative investment in real estate, △ providing benefits to his brother`s company, △ accepting bribery as chief of direct taxes bureau in the NTS, △ exempting the affiliated companies of Lee Yong-Ho, the chairperson of G and G, from tax investigation, etc. Explaining how he got the money, with which he established `family town of Ahn Jung-Nam` on the best area in Gangnam, Seoul, he amplified the suspicion during the process of accumulating property by changing his story from `I deposited 150 million won in the property accumulation savings account which doubles it in 3 years` to `I saved by investing in high interest services`. It was only a matter of course from that point on that the Grand National Party would insist that the Prosecution conduct an investigation.

Some say that he went abroad for medical treatment, but he did not come back to the country even when his mother died last year. He could have urgent reasons for going into hiding even at the cost of neglecting his filial duties, but his behavior was still dishonorable.

Apologizing for the several corruption cases to which even presidential secretaries were connected in the New Year Press Conference, President Kim Dae-Jung said, "I will never retreat from sweeping corruptions away." In a situation as serious as this when we are called a `republic of gates` the nation hopes that President`s words would become reality.

But we cannot but be disappointed with the case of Mr. Ahn. If the President`s declaration of war on corruption may not end as mere gesture, governmental organizations should put his words in to practice. It is still not too late. A reliable governmental body should begin examining Mr. Ahn`s case and solve the suspicion. If the government is not closing its eyes on him, rewarding him for his sacrifice in the tax investigation on the press, it should not let him become a `forgotten figure`.

Otherwise, the government, which refuses to eliminate this `Janus-faced corruption` where the very individual who urged tax justice for those who accumulated wealth by unfair methods, will never be able wipe out corruption and restore its integrity.