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[Editorial] Ex-pres. Roh Must Confess All

Posted April. 08, 2009 06:10,   


Former President Roh Moo-hyun released an apology to the nation on his involvement in the bribery scandal of Taekwang Industry CEO Park Yeon-cha on Roh`s homepage yesterday and said he will cooperate with the investigation. He apparently decided to apologize as the probe zeroed in on him in the wake of five million dollars of Park`s money transferred to the account of the son-in-law of Roh`s brother and former presidential secretary for general affairs Jung Sang-moon.

Roh confessed that his wife Kwon Yang-sook asked Jung to receive the money from Park to repay debt. For the first time in history, both former president and first lady will be investigated by prosecutors.

On the suspicion that Jung took hundreds of thousands of dollars from Park, Roh said, “The suspicion is not his but ours, and my wife asked him to borrow the money and used it.” He added, “I will explain this in detail to prosecutors and receive a legal evaluation accordingly.” If Kwon took the money while her husband was president, this could be a legal matter. Though she simply borrowed the money, authorities must check if she wrote an IOU, why she borrowed the money, and whether she paid interest regularly.

Roh repeatedly said he learned his brother’s son-in-law received five million dollars after leaving office, but said it was irrelevant to him. “I did nothing because I saw his favor there and it was an investment, and it was done after I left office," Roh said. What matters is who the real owner of the five million dollars is. It is hard to believe that Park handed such a huge sum of money to the son-in-law of Roh`s brother just as a favor. If Roh was president, this can be a comprehensive bribe charge. Though it might have come after he left office, if he did this despite knowing that a businessman who received favors from the president gave big money to his relative as a favor, he is likely to be criticized for ethical reasons.

Park told prosecutors that he said he would give the money to Roh when he met Kang Keum-won, CEO of Changshin Textile, and Jung in Aug. 2007 when Roh was still president. Park is likely to have delivered the message to Roh through any possible means.

Immediately after leaving office, Roh wrote an IOU to Park in March last year and borrowed 1.5 billion won (1.6 million dollars). This transaction needs to be checked. It is bitter for the people to see a former president who clamored for ethical politics and his brother, wife and confidants awaiting investigation.