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[Editorial] Truth Surrounding Hanwha`s Takeover of Korea Life

[Editorial] Truth Surrounding Hanwha`s Takeover of Korea Life

Posted September. 25, 2002 22:35,   


Hanwha Group`s takeover of Korea Life Insurance is a very thorny issue since it was approved at the Public Fund Oversight Committee by a close vote of 5 to 4 after being halted twice.

About 3.5 trillion won of public fund was injected to the Korea Life Insurance to turn the outsized insurance company around. Some have raised questions over the incumbent administration`s decision to allow a specific chaebol to take over the company as its term is nearing the end.

Rep Chung Hyung-geun of the Grand National Party revealed that political bigwigs were engaged in Hanwha`s takeover of Korea Life. Of course it is too early to identify whether Rep Chung `s remarks is true or not. Rep. Chung raised suspicions that Roh Moo-hyun, presidential candidate of the Millennium Democratic Party (MDP), MDP chairman Han Hwa-gap and presidential secretary Park Jie-won exerted influence in the takeover process based on the transcript of wiretapped telephone communication between chairman Kim Seung-yeon of Hanwha Group and MDP lawmakers and presidential aides.

The government argues that the deal was fairly struck since there was no other company at home and abroad, which wanted to take over the insurance company, and the company was sold for the highest price in the corporate value range assessed by Merrill Lynch taking charge of the sale of Korea Life. But five committee members, who voted for the takeover at the Public Fund Oversight Committee, were figures close to the government. The allegation that the high-ranking government officials might lobby for the sake of Hanwha Group is gaining strength in that working-level officials are not in position to make decision for such a large-scale takeover.

Not all the revelations Rep. Chung has made were true, but considering the above circumstances his disclosure this time doesn`t seem groundless. If influential figures were involved in illegal lobbying activities for Hanwha`s takeover of Korea Life as Rep. Chung maintains, it should not be overlooked.

In order to dig up the truth, the National Assembly should figure out whether the transcript submitted to the National Assembly by Rep Chung is true or not. If the intelligence agency is still making such wiretapped documents, it will be a testament that the government is committing serious crimes.