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Ex-ROK president's wife quizzed

REPUBLIC of Korea prosecutors have questioned the wife of former president Roh Moo-hyun on suspicion of accepting US$1 million from a detained businessman at the center of a high-profile corruption scandal, an official said yesterday.

Prosecutors quizzed Kwon Yang-sook last Saturday to determine whether she received the money from Park Yeon-cha, head of a local shoe manufacturer, via a former presidential aide in 2007, according to a prosecution spokesman.

Prosecutors also summoned Roh's only son - Roh Gun-ho - yesterday to investigate whether he used some of the US$1 million for living expenses in the United States, spokesman Cho Eun-suk said.

Roh Moo-hyun, who stepped down as president early last year, offered a public apology last week and admitted his "house" took money from Park. He said he would cooperate in an investigation.

The admission was a blow for the ex-president, a former human rights lawyer and liberal politician who took office in 2003 as a reformist with a clean image.

Roh complained yesterday about media reports of the scandal, saying many were "groundless" and "different" from the truth.

In a statement on his Website, he also strongly suggested that the money his wife received was not a bribe.

South Korean media have reported Park told investigators he provided the money to Kwon at the former president's request, and that he separately gave US$5 million to help a relative of Roh Moo-hyun establish an investment firm in the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven, in 2008 in an unauthorized financial transaction.

Media reports said the junior Roh is a major shareholder in the investment firm and was allegedly involved in getting the US$5 million from Park.

The son, who has been studying at a US university, returned to South Korea on Saturday night.


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