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Presidential Aide Didn’t Brief President On “Oil-gate”

Presidential Aide Didn’t Brief President On “Oil-gate”

Posted April. 24, 2005 23:18,   


Last November, the office of the Chief Secretary to the President for National Policy investigated the scandal surrounding the contract between Korea National Railroad (Korail) and an oil company to develop oil fields in Russia. However, Cheong Wa Dae, the presidential office, reportedly informed President Roh Moo Hyun of this some 20 days after it became aware of the investigation.

One official of the office informed Chief Secretary Cheon Ho-seon on March 31 that “We have conducted an investigation into the oil-developing business of Korail last November,” but Secretary Cheon notified this to the Senior Secretary’s Office for Civil Affairs on April 18, said Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kim Man-soo on Sunday.

President Roh was informed about this on Friday afternoon after Rep. Ahn Taek-su of the opposition Grand National Party raised suspicions over the involvement of presidential aides in the scandal in a National Assembly Construction and Transportation Committee meeting.

As it is confirmed that not only the investigation in November but also the revelation of it was not made known to the president, suspicions have been raised that Cheong Wa Dae officials were trying to deliberately conceal the truth to minimize the ramifications. However, Kim denied the charge.

Chief Secretary Cheon explained the reason he failed to report what he was told by his subordinate by saying that “I didn’t feel it was necessary to report it as I was told that the investigation was properly conducted as a routine policy monitoring activity, and no suspicion of political involvement or corruption was suggested.”


Meanwhile, Cheong Wa Dae released its initial report about the case by the National Intelligence Service to journalists on Sunday, which had been classified as “secret.”

The report is titled, “Korea National Railroad’s plan to acquire an oil company is at a crisis,” and it was delivered to the deputy prime minister of the economy, the minister of commerce, industry and energy, the minister of construction and transportation, the senior secretary to the president for policy planning, and the advisor to the president for economic policy. Therefore, it is highly probable that other related ministries have already recognized the problem of the business before suspicions were aroused.

Jung-Hun Kim jnghn@donga.com