[Editorial] Mounting suspicions

The Government Public Ethics Committee has launched its probe of senior prosecutor Jin Kyung-jun, who is facing questions over his stock trading gains worth more than 10 billion won ($8.6 million).

It is a mercy that the state has not hushed up the allegation involving his possible exploitation of corporate insider information. At the same time, a concern is that the committee has no right to summon key figures of game developer Nexon, whose stocks were traded by the prosecutor.

While some figures including Nexon chairman Kim Jung-ju have faced public suspicion as they had close relations with Jin, the committee only has the authority to summon government officials. So its probe is restricted in terms of revealing detailed procedures on Jin셲 buying and selling of Nexon equities over the past decade.

There is no doubt that Jin셲 rights should be protected as the criminal law stipulates the principle of presumption of innocence. And citizens are well acquainted with the fact that any criminal punishment of him for malpractice as an official is impossible, as the case셲 statute of limitations have already run out. Nonetheless, citizens say that they should know whether Jin셲 trading was legitimate.

In reflection of public opinion about the high-profile prosecutor, the Justice Ministry needs to jointly scrutinize Jin with the Government Public Ethics Committee. The joint investigation would make it possible for the authority to thoroughly probe Jin and the other figures.

As the Korean Bar Association셲 has advised, the Prosecutors Office could summon Jin as a suspect in an ordinary case of allegedly unfair stock trading.

A shady point has come under spotlight. Jin has argued that he and some of his friends purchased unlisted Nexon shares from an individual, who was planning to dispose of them as quickly as possible as he or she was seeking to emigrating from Korea in 2005.

But the individual has reportedly stayed in the U.S. since 1997. In addition, according to market speculations, the individual had worked for Nexon, though Jin said the stock seller was an ordinary small investor.

Jin has to resolve the allegations in the market, alongside the obligation as a public official to sincerely reply to written questions from the committee.

Jin offered to resign as a senior prosecutor of the Korea Immigration Service at the Ministry of Justice early this month. He took gains by selling about 800,000 shares after Nexon was listed on a Japanese bourse.

If the Justice Ministry accepts his resignation as being 쏿t his own request, the judicial authority will again face severe public criticism. The acceptance of his resignation offer should be held off until all suspicions are resolved.