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Independent Counsel Song Still Following the Paper Trail on Money-Wiring Scandal

Independent Counsel Song Still Following the Paper Trail on Money-Wiring Scandal

Posted June. 12, 2003 21:32,   


Breaking news on the Independent Counsel`s Investigation (A1)

Yesterday, Independent Counsel Song Doo-hwan, currently investigating Kim Dae Jung`s alleged secret checkbook diplomacy with Kim Jong Il, directly counter-punched allegations of some Millennium Democrats, that the wiring scandal should be given immunity since it was an official act of former President Kim. Song said, "It is not the politicians but the courts that should make the final determination on the matter." His statement indicates that he intents to indict each and every person involved in the scandal.

In the past, Counsel Song did not officially make public his opinion on the Immunity allegations.

An official working for the Counsel said, "The selection of the term itself sounds incorrect. In substance, it`s a matter of judicial review. The term judicial review provides grounds for a granting of immunity for any act conducted by the President in the course of fulfilling his constitutional duties. They are alleging that Kim should be given immunity without going through the judicial procedure. The court, however, has the sole authority to make a definitive determination through the regular judicial proceedings."

Kim may face formal charges if the Counsel finds his conduct illegal and decides to indict him.

"Until now, we have not officially discussed the possibility of questioning or indicting former President Kim,” said one source. “We are talking about the possibility regarding those who have already been pointed out." He seems afraid to expand on the matter of the former president.

The Independent Counsel`s office also confirmed that it would summon former Culture Minister Park Ji-won for questioning next Monday morning. Since Park was a key player in the wiring scandal, the office will cross-examine him about all matters regarding the scandal. It will also question him to find out whether he reported the wiring scheme to former President Kim in advance.

Independent Counsel Song grilled former Hyundai Securities Chairman Lee Ik-chi as well. Lee is suspected of ordering Hyundai Asan President Kim Yoon-gyu and Kim Jae-gyu to wire money to the North Korean regime. Lee is also believed to have direct knowledge about what was discussed during the preliminary working-level talks held in March and April of 2000 in preparation for the summit.

Song is trying to determine the nature of the money wired and the quid pro quo given for the wiring. Kim Jae-soo was brought in again for questioning, along with former Chairman Lee.

leon@donga.com jarrett@donga.com