Mon, Apr 13, 2009 - Page 5 News List

South Korean ex-leader's son quizzed in corruption case


South Korea’s state prosecutors yesterday questioned a son of former president Roh Moo-hyun in an expanding corruption probe, officials said.

Roh Geon-ho, 35, who returned from work in the US late on Saturday, presented himself for questioning in Seoul to comply with a summons, Supreme Prosecutors’ Office spokesman Cho Eun-seok said.

“Mr Roh Geon-Ho is being questioned as a witness, not as a suspect yet,” Cho said.

He said Roh was being quizzed about any involvement in a graft scandal in which a shoe manufacturer, Park Yeon-cha, is alleged to have bribed people of influence, including relatives or confidants of the former president.

Posecutors suspect that Park, who was arrested in December on tax evasion and graft charges, provided millions of dollars to Roh’s relatives and aides, Yonhap news agency said.

Yeon Chul-ho, husband of one of Roh’s nieces, and Jung Sang-moon, a former aide to Roh, are already under investigation in relation to the same case.

Seoul’s YTN cable news channel said yesterday that Roh and his wife may face a prosecution summons for questioning in the upcoming week.

Prosecutors have refused to comment.

The case is a serious blow to Roh, who was elected as president in 2002 on the back of a popular anti-corruption campaign.

Last week, the former president apologised in an Internet message over the corruption scandal, and admitted his wife Kwon Yang-Sook had taken money from Park to pay off debts. It was unclear whether it was a loan.

“I feel deeply ashamed … and apologize from the bottom of my heart,” said Roh, who was in office from 2003 until last year, adding he would give details to the prosecution.

Yonhap said Park provided more than US$1 million to Roh and his wife through Jung and another US$5 million to Yeon.

The businessman has told investigators that, while in office, Roh himself asked for US$1 million in 2007, Yonhap said.

Moon Jae-in, former chief secretary to Roh, said the former president and his son have nothing to do with the US$5 million Yeon received from Park.

“The money does not belong to former President Roh, nor to his son,” Moon told Yonhap. “Geon-Ho might have met with Park together with Yeon, but he has nothing to do with the money.”

Park, once a key financial backer of the former leader, is also alleged to have bribed politicians and government officials.

Roh’s older brother, Roh Gun-pyeong, has already been indicted for allegedly colluding with Park to broker the buyout of an ailing securities firm from a state-run company in 2006.

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