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(EDITORIAL from Korea JoongAng Daily on Jan. 23)

All News 07:07 January 23, 2017

Explain about the shady deal

In the aftermath of the unprecedented abuse of power scandal involving President Park Geun-hye and her longtime friend Choi Soon-sil, Koreans increasingly demand fairness and transparency from presidential hopefuls. The same standards apply to former UN Secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, a presidential contender for the upcoming election. But the former head of the UN stays mum even after his younger brother Ki-sang is sought by U.S. law enforcement authorities on bribery charges.

Ban's brother is under suspicion that he - along with his son Joo-hyun, a managing director of a New York-based real estate firm - tried to offer $500,000 to a Qatari official to sell off a skyscraper in Vietnam, owned by Korean construction company Keangnam Enterprises, in 2014. If convicted of a bribery charge, Ban's brother and his son will be sentenced to a maximum of 20 years in jail.

But we cannot understand Ban's reaction. The former UN chief simply said he does not know anything about it, hoping that both governments clear all lingering doubts through a strict and transparent procedure. Ki-sang and his son allegedly used the word "family" in the process of lobbying for the sell-off. That strongly points to a possibility that the UN chief's brother and his son committed an international crime by taking advantage of their family ties to Ban.

Keangnam Enterprises had been run by Sung Wan-jong, former chairman of the company, before Sung committed suicide two years ago after taking responsibility for a wide array of bribery charges toward politicians. Before killing himself in 2015, Sung insisted that he became a scapegoat due to his support for Ban in his bid for president. There is other evidence too. Ki-sang, a former banker, served as a consultant for Keangnam Enterprises to help self off the high-rise in Vietnam, suggesting Ban's involvement in the sell-off. Nevertheless, the former UN chief dismisses all suspicions, saying, "I just don't know about it." No citizen would accept it.

If Ban really had not been aware of what's going on, he must have failed to manage his relatives. If he knew about the shady deals, he must explain why he failed to avert it. Ban must order his nephew Joo-hyun to go to the U.S. for further investigations. That's the minimum he can offer to Koreans who have been outraged over the scandal involving President' Park's inner circles.

Ban also must clear all doubts over his alleged receipt of $230,000 from the late chairman of Keangnam Enterprises. Otherwise, the Ban Ki-moon effect will create a storm in a teacup.

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