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Reopen Roh`s Bribery Case

Posted September. 06, 2010 13:22,   


Lee In-kyu, former director of the central investigation department of the Supreme Prosecutors` Office, led the investigation into a bribery scandal surrounding the late former President Roh Moo-hyun and businessman Park Yeon-cha. Lee recently told The Dong-A Ilbo and other media in an interview that a comment by Cho Hyun-oh, the new commissioner of the National Police Agency, on Roh’s alleged bank accounts under borrowed names was “not entirely wrong.”

Bank accounts managed by one of Roh’s secretaries under borrowed names involved money that was eventually channeled to Roh, Lee said, so the accounts can be considered Roh’s. Lee’s surprise allegation has tipped the balance of a defamation case against Cho toward finding the truth behind the bank accounts.

Lee’s comments on Roh’s widow Kwon Yang-sook brings to light new circumstantial evidence on her alleged acceptance of 1 billion won (849,618 U.S. dollars) in bribes. The former senior prosecutor said when Park, former chairman of Taekwang Industry, had dinner with Roh and his wife at the presidential office, Kwon repeatedly talked about how her son was living in a rented house in the U.S. because he lacked enough money to buy a house. Park said he interpreted her comment as an indirect request for money. Lee said Park told prosecutors while under interrogation that after Kwon said it would cost about 1 billion won to buy a house for her son, the businessman offered her the money. This suggests Kwon’s potential implication in the bank accounts under borrowed names.

Lee said Roh’s suicide “saved” many other people, adding that the investigation into former Prime Minister-designate Kim Tae-ho was improperly conducted. This could mean the end to the probe into Roh’s bribery scandal led to improper investigation of other politicians. Prosecutors probing the defamation case against Cho for his comments on Roh’s alleged borrowed-name bank accounts should not just see if Roh had such accounts. They must also resume an investigation into all others suspected of implication in the Park Yeon-cha scandal.

Lee claimed that he was willing to show up at Kim’s confirmation hearing but did not at the request of both the ruling and opposition parties. Though politicians have clamored for the truth behind the borrowed-name bank accounts and the Park Yeon-cha scandal, they have instead tried to prevent inconvenient truths from being disclosed.

Nevertheless, the ruling and opposition parties say they want Lee prosecuted for failure to appear at the confirmation hearing. What a hypocritical attitude. Lee must disclose in detail who stopped him from showing up at the hearing and how they did it. While prosecutors cannot indict Roh because he is deceased, they can resume probes into his family and other politicians anytime. Ruling and opposition politicians should enact a law on designating an independent counsel to unravel a secret that has been sealed off.