Go to contents

The Knife is Out, But Is There Anything to Slice?

Posted August. 10, 2005 03:11,   


The prosecution commenced its investigation into the details of the “X-file” that was reported by local TV station MBC by summoning Lee Hak-su, Samsung Group’s corporate restructuring chief, on August 9.

Its official reason for the investigation is to dig into the suspicions raised by the People`s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy group concerning allegations of illegal conduct by Samsung as revealed in the file’s wiretapped and recorded conversations.

But taking a closer look into the prosecution reveals its agony over investigating the details of the taped conversations. For the most part, it does not have a strong enough conviction on the propositions and outcome of the investigation.

The discussion on whether to use the wiretapped recordings, which are illegal evidence, as clues for the investigation has not been able to reach a conclusion. Even among members of the prosecution, some believe that illegal evidence cannot be used in court, while others insist that it’s possible to at least start an investigation using other related evidence such as press releases.

An affiliate of the prosecution spoke out, saying, “This particular case is besieged with legal restraints.” In other words, there are numerous and complex problems regarding legal principles that need to be solved.

Even if legal obstacles were to be overcome, a bigger problem would lie in the process of “proving facts with supporting evidence.” A person associated with the Seoul Central District Public Prosecutor`s Office said, “Even if Mr. Lee makes a confession, it would merely be verbal,” while asserting, “None of the necessary material evidence would have lasted.”

Furthermore, the aforementioned case deals with the events of eight years ago in 1997 in which case the statute of limitations to prosecute the violation of the Political Funds Law (a three-year statute of limitations) would be expired, even if the allegations proved to be true.

Even the principle accusation raised by the People`s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, the violation of the Misappropriation Law under the Act on the Aggravated Punishment of Special Crimes, could prove difficult to prosecute if Lee insists that the money is part of Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee’s private assets. Lee Hak-su has a past record of intercepting the prosecution’s attempts to summon chairman Lee during its previous investigation regarding illegal funds of the presidential election, using such logic as the basis for the 38 billion won that Samsung gave to the candidates.

The prosecution, while maintaining its efforts to examine the legal principles concerning the argument over illegal evidence, will most likely carry out an “easy-pace investigation” strategy, by keeping an eye on the prevailing views at the political front and among the public regarding the investigations of the wiretapped tape.

Tae-Hoon Lee jefflee@donga.com