Roh Admits Wife Took Money from Wealthy Supporter

Former president Roh Moo-hyun Former president Roh Moo-hyun

Former president Roh Moo-hyun on Tuesday admitted that his wife took money from Taekwang Industry CEO Park Yeon-cha. Following the arrest of former presidential secretary Chung Sang-moon for accepting a bribe the same day, Roh posted a statement under the title "I apologize" on his website, in which he wrote, "The accusation should be directed at us, not Chung. My family made the request, received money and used it." He explained that "family" refers to his wife.

Roh said he and his wife Kwon Yang-sook took the money because of "outstanding debts." "I will elaborate on the details to prosecutors and face legal action in accordance with the case," he said. Former presidential chief of staff Moon Jae-in, a close aide, said Roh spent many years in politics, including time unaffiliated to any political group, and ended up receiving favors from many people. Moon added he heard the former first lady had borrowed the money from Park.

The Supreme Public Prosecutors Office plans to summon Roh and his wife for questioning as soon as they are done questioning Chung. Prosecutors plan to ask Roh whether he was aware at the time that his wife took money from Park and whether the ex-president had offered any favors to the businessman in return. They also want to know whether Roh was the final recipient of the US$5 million Park gave to Yeon Chul-ho, the husband of Roh's niece.

Roh in the website post said he did not bother to take action over that payment since it happened after his tenure ended and that it was a business investment, although the motive did appear to have been a good-will gesture.

englishnews@chosun.com / Apr. 08, 2009 10:23 KST