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Lee calls for thorough probe into savings bank scandal

President Lee Myung-bak called on law enforcement agencies and political parties to thoroughly get to the bottom of an influence-peddling scandal involving a corruption-laden savings bank to restore public trust, his aides said Wednesday.

His remarks came as a parliamentary investigation committee has been making little progress in its own inquiry after failing to confirm a list of witnesses for questioning and secure investigation data from prosecutors who have refused to submit documents on the ongoing case. Some lawmakers have demanded that an independent counsel with legal authority look into the case.

"The government and the ruling party should not give people the impression that they are evading something," Lee was quoted as saying at a Monday meeting with his senior aides. "There is no reason not to launch an independent counsel."

The presidential office, however, remained cautious over launching an independent counsel, which would need parliamentary approval, while multiple investigations are currently underway.

"It is a matter to be discussed in the parliament. The issue needs to be discussed after a prosecution probe and parliamentary inquiry are completed," his spokesman Park Jeong-ha said. 

Prosecutors have so far indicted dozens of senior bank officials on charges of a string of irregularities and have also pressed charges against several state regulators and politicians for alleged bribery in return for helping the bank avoid punishment. The ad-hoc parliamentary committee has to wrap up its activities by Aug. 12.

Lee also urged that a fugitive key lobbyist be repatriated from Canada for investigation as early as possible. The 72-year-old lobbyist, Park Tae-gyu, is suspected of helping the lender raise 100 billion won (US$95 million) of funds through issuing new stocks. (Yonhap News)


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