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Former Minister Kim Sung-ho To Be Questioned for Bribery

Former Minister Kim Sung-ho To Be Questioned for Bribery

Posted March. 03, 2003 22:35,   


The Central Investigation Division of the Supreme Public Prosecutors` Office announced yesterday that it would subpoena former Minister of Health and Welfare Kim Sung-ho for questioning with regard to a bribery charge. The DA`s Office has reportedly secured evidence establishing that Kim took a bribe amounting to tens of millions from a company, when he was a local head of the National Tax Service.

A prosecutor working on the case confirmed, "We have checked the bank account records of Kim and his relatives. We have found out that a large sum of money was transferred to his relative`s account. We believe the money was sent by the company suspected of bribing Kim."

The prosecution has prohibited former Minister Kim Sung-ho and his wife from having a trip outside Korea.

The prosecution concluded that the money would have probably for buying Kim to block an investigation against the company. But, it does not exclude the possibility that the money was just a gift of appreciation.

The division announced that it has secretly investigated Kim Sung-ho and his relatives. While investigating the bribery scandal of ex-president Kim Dae Jung`s second son Hong-up last July, the division discovered that some of the bribes given to Hong-up was transferred into Kim Sung-ho`s relatives` accounts for money-laundering purposes.

The division prosecutors reportedly questioned the executives of the company suspected of having conspired with Kim Sung-ho in the bribery case.

Some experts, however, doubt the sincerity of the prosecution. They suspect that the prosecution had intentionally put the case on hold while Kim Dae Jung was in office, since Kim Sung-ho was a minister at that time. All of sudden, they argue, an official probe was launched with the inauguration of the Roh administration.

In response, one prosecutor explained, "We have locked up two sons of Kim Dae Jung, the former president. Why is there any reason for us to hesitate to prosecute a minister? We just got tipped off about Kim Sung-ho`s corruptive act."

Kim Sung-ho had worked as a high-ranking tax official until late 2000. Then, in a reshuffling held last August, he was appointed as Minister of Health and Welfare by Kim Dae Jung.

Wi-Yong Jung viyonz@donga.com