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[Editorial] Roh`s Suspicious Claims

Posted April. 10, 2009 09:32,   


The bribery scandal involving former President Roh Moo-hyun and Taekwang Industry Chairman Park Yeon-cha has raised suspicion that Roh thoroughly prepared to evade the law. Most suspicious is Roh’s admission that his wife received money through his former presidential secretary for general affairs Jung Sang-moon.

Park told prosecutors that he delivered a bag containing dollars and cash worth one billion won (755 million U.S. dollars) to Roh. Park said he did not lend the money but sent it at Roh’s request, according to prosecutors. If this statement is true, chances are that Roh made a false claim in his letter of apology. “(My wife) received the money through Jung,” the former president said, but he stopped short of elaborating. So Roh will likely claim in the probe that the money was a loan.

A close look at the way the money was delivered, however, shows that Roh took preemptive measures to get around the law. If he did borrow the money, there would have been no reason to have the money put in a bag and delivered to him, a typical method to deliver bribes. Roh appears to have done so to block law enforcement authorities from tracking the flow of money.

The ex-president reportedly borrowed 1.5 billion won (1.1 million dollars) for the construction of his residence in Bongha shortly after leaving office. The possibility of an illegal transaction cannot be ruled out, however. Roh said he wrote a one-year IOU (from March 20 last year to March 19 this year) for the money at interest of seven percent. Though the loan has matured, Roh has yet to repay it. Given that the construction of his residence will generate no profit, it can be assumed that he had no intention of repaying the debt from the beginning. The IOU is useless if Park does not execute it. Utilizing IOUs is a common method of bribe taking used by public officials and politicians.

Also unconvincing is the statements made by Roh, his son Kun-ho, and Yeon Chul-ho, the first son-in-law of Roh’s brother, on the five million dollars Yeon received from Park. Why did the veteran businessman Park invest in the novice Yeon? Equally suspicious is that Roh Kun-ho accompanied Yeon when Yeon met Park to seek investment. Roh’s claim that Park made the investment out of friendliness is not convincing at all, nor is his claim that he knew about it only after leaving office. Park said he offered the five million dollars to Roh at an August 2007 meeting among Park, Jung, and Changshin Textile Chairman Kang Keum-won.

Roh should not get his own way with prosecutors, who must get to the bottom of the case this time to convince the public.