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[Editorial] Roh Must Not Meddle in Presidential Race

Posted December. 17, 2007 03:03,   


Two days prior to the presidential election, President Roh Moo-hyun ordered the justice minister to consider exercising his ministerial right to override the prosecution’s investigation into the BBK financial fraud case. The United New Democratic Party (UNDP), which held a general meeting on Sunday, said that the video clip, which was recorded when Grand National Party presidential candidate Lee Myung-bak gave a special lecture at Kangwoon University on October 17, 2000, apparently reveals that the prosecution’s probe into the BBK case was fabricated. The UNDP argued that Cheong Wa Dae should be held responsible for the prosecution’s alleged failure to disclose the truth about the case. In response, President Roh intervened in the last minutes of the presidential race under the name of resolving public suspicion and restoring public confidence in the prosecution.

The UNDP, which argues that an independent counsel should be named to investigate the case again, opposes the prosecution’s reinvestigation of the case. The Democratic Liberal Party and Democratic Party also support the appointment of an independent counsel.

Although President Roh told the justice minister to make a decision after hearing discussions on the BBK case at the National Assembly, he did not have to instruct the minister to consider exercising authority over the prosecution.

President Roh’s move is clearly an attempt to amplify suspicions of candidate Lee’s involvement in the BBK scandal. He also seems to have calculated that it will pressure the National Assembly to pass an independent counsel bill.

However, it is doubtful whether the controversial video footage is crucial evidence that will reverse the conclusion of the prosecution’s investigation, or if it requires the prosecution or an independent counsel to carry out another round of investigations into the case. The prosecution has already looked into some 59,990 files and concluded that BBK was a company 100 percent owned by Kim Gyeong-jun. Prosecutors also say that the content of the footage is hardly different from that of Lee’s interviews with other media.

In fact, Lee clearly indicated that the BBK is owned by Kim Gyeong-jun during an interview with the Dong-A Ilbo on October 16, 2000, a day before the lecture. Lee said, “I recruited Kim Gyeong-jun who established the BBK last year.” However, the UNDP distorted the interview to claim that it was evidence proving Lee’s ownership of the BBK.

One must not conclude the ownership of the BBK just based on a video clip and media interviews. The key is where the money to fund the company came from and who had actual control over management. President Roh has violated his duty to stay neutral in the elections and has helped the UNDP by presuming that the prosecution’s investigation report on the ownership of BBK was flawed.

The people who had the footage of Lee’s lecture asked the GNP to pay 3 to 10 billion won in return for the video. Not only the family members of the swindler Kim, but also blackmailers are now changing the fate of the presidential election. The some 5,000 victims of the BBK case are the people who know the best that Lee was not involved in Kim’s stock price manipulation and embezzlement activities.