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[Editorial] Gambling Probe Must Go On

Posted August. 21, 2006 03:06,   


As the president’s nephew Roh Ji-won and presidential confidants are reportedly involved in video gambling suspicions, it is possible that the controversy could develop into an influence-peddling scandal.

Prosecutors indicted yesterday the CEOs of two companies, “Sea Story” producer A-One Biz and distributor Ziko Prime, on charges of manipulating the upper limit of machine payouts to up to 25,000 times the money played.

However, the essential suspicion is not on the upper limit manipulation. The circumstances where such an extremely speculative game passed through approval controls, including media rating deliberation, and whether the approval involved the nephew should be clarified first.

President Roh and presidential chief secretary for civil affairs Jeon Hae-cheol explained, “There is no relation between ‘the nephew’ and ‘Sea Story.’”

The president said, “When the suspicions raised by the press prove to be untrue, they could be used against it.” Jeon said, “We will take every action, including civil and criminal confrontation, against reckless political offensive and distorted reporting.”

Both comments are not appropriate in that they sound intimidating and may discourage the press and prosecution from pursuing the matter.

It is natural enough that suspicions are excited over approvals by the Korea Media Rating Board, over circumstances where the nephew worked as a director for the company that had acquired “Sea Story,” and whether the president’s confidants have any relations with gift certificates.

An executive of Woojyun Systec, for which the nephew worked as a director, said, “Roh used to come to the office about once a week because he did not have many things to do.” In this case, the annual salary and 100 thousand shares of stock options are hard to see as legitimate compensation for his work. Even Jeon said, “It is estimated that the CEO of Woojyun Systec was expecting something.”

Prosecutors raided video gambling machine related companies on July 6, and the nephew resigned on July 5, a day before. It could hardly be seen as a coincidence.

Prosecutors should undertake a thorough investigation into the suspicions related to “Sea Story.” We believe that the prosecution is well aware of the aftereffects of “makeshift investigations” in the past when they were conscious of the government.