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Suspicions over Source of Money for Repayment

Posted May. 25, 2003 21:40,   


Questions are being raised about where 2 billion won which the chairman of a Roh supporters` group claims was used to repay the debts of Jangsucheon, a bottled water company that Mr. Roh owned, came from and when the repayment was made. For the claims of Lee Ki-myung, Roh’s supporters’ group chairman, are different from those of the company creditor, Korea Lease Financing Co., Ltd., and the Korea National Housing Corporation.

In response, the opposition Grand National Party (GNP) is urging a fact-finding investigation, alleging that the money used to pay back the debts is highly likely to be election campaign funds, not Lee’s own money.

In a recent interview with a news outlet, Lee Ki-myung explained that he paid back the debts from Korea Lease Financing Co., Ltd. by selling about 79,200 square meters of land in Yongin City that he inherited.

However, Korea National Housing Corporation, which purchased Mr. Lee’s land in Yongin, said it bought some 17,000 square meters of land from him for 427 million won. According to the public corporation, the agreement was concluded at the end of last year and the compensation money was given to him on January 7, a different explanation from Lee’s.

Meanwhile, Korea Lease Financing said that out of the loan it extended to Jangsucheon, Lee paid back some 2 billion won in July and August last year and paid back the rest, a purported 300 million to 400 million won early this year.

According to Korea Lease Financing and the Korea National Housing Corporation, Lee already repaid most of the bottled water company’s debts in July and August last year. Therefore, Lee’s claim of having repaid the debts by selling land in February of this year is likely fabricated.

In a statement, a GNP vice spokesman said that President Roh Moo-hyun and his elder brother Roh Kon-pyong should disclose the whole truth before the public to prevent the scandal from getting out of control and also suggested a more thorough investigation.

There are allegations that the money came from campaign funds, the vice spokesman said. He also said, "Though Cheong Wa Dae explained that Lee Ki-myung and Roh Kon-pyong prepared 3 billion won to get the company released from a provisional seizure, it is doubtful that Lee paid as much as 2 billion won to fulfill his duty as a guarantor."

The vice spokesman suspects that this may be related to the president’s decision to appoint Mr. Lee as special advisor for cultural affairs.

Seung-Heon Lee Min-Hyuk Park ddr@donga.com mhpark@donga.com