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Investigate the ‘Cho Kuk’ fund (KOR)

Oct 04,2019
Korea’s liberals are starting to have doubts about Justice Minister Cho Kuk for the many allegations around his family’s wealth building and the academic integrity of his two children. Spec Watch Korea, a civilian group keeping an eye on corruption, played a key role in triggering the prosecutors’ investigation into Choi Soon-sil and her suspicious relationship with former President Park Geun-hye. The group has filed bribery and other criminal charges against Cho with the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office. A similar accusation was made by Kim Kyung-yul, head of the Center for Economic and Financial Justice at the People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD), a liberal civic group where Cho once served with a handful of aides under President Moon Jae-in.

Yoon Young-dae, head of Spec Watch Korea, said it did not make sense that Cho was unaware of his wife helping out with the business affairs of the company his family’s private equity fund invested in. Actually, his wife even collected consultant fees from the company. Cho should be under a prosecutorial probe instead of spearheading prosecution reforms, Yoon said. In a recent radio interview, Kim of the PSPD said that researchers of his center found many problems with the so-called Cho Kuk fund. He called members of the civic group “hypocrites” for defending Cho. Kim is under administrative leave from PSPD for his comments.

Kim claimed that a number of accountants and economists scrutinized over the fund invested in by Cho’s family and found signs of power abuse. Kim said there was ample legal evidence to back his argument. But the PSPD leadership struck down Kim’s suggestion to go public with the findings and has so far stayed mum on Cho’s affair.

PSPD has been Korea’s key nonprofit organization for 25 years. But it is being criticized for its targeting of conservative forces. It was a human resource pool for the Moon administration, as many headed to the Blue House and other government posts. It must disclose its finding to be true to its role as a civilian watchdog on the sitting power.

Still, President Moon Jae-in and the ruling party have been critical of prosecutors’ investigation of Cho’s family and accuse the prosecution of dilly-dallying in a reform drive. Prosecutors have the duty to investigate the suspect and criminal charges if they suspect wrongdoings under the criminal investigation act. No political power should deter an investigation into Cho. The government must let the prosecution do its job to find the truth behind the charges against Cho.