Tongsun Park, accused South Korean agent, has told Justice Department investigators that his own lists of cash gifts to members of Congress include many transactions that never took place, U.S. officials said today.
They said that, during 17 days of questioning which ended here Wednesday, the South Korean businessman and socialite asserted on many occasions that he had listed donations he had never actually given.
[The House ethics committee announced yesterday that Park would be interviewed by its investigators in executive session in Washington Feb. 21. Park is also expected to testify in criminal proceedings in Washington March 20. He was given immunity from criminal prosecution in exchange for his testimonyy in Seoul and in court cases in the United States.]
On the basis of a series of polygraph examinations administered to Park, the iinvestigators believe he told the truth and that he had listed phony contributions to serve his own purposes.
"There are a significant number of entries which are fictitious," said one U.S. official familiar with the polygraph results. "The transactions never occurred. The whole thing was fabricated."
Park never knew personally some of the person whose names were written down on his lists, he said.
[A knowledgable Justice Department source in Washington said yesterday that these findings confirmed previous suspiclons by prosecutors that Park had exaggerated the number and size of his payments to members of Congress in an attempt to impress his Korean government spinsors.]
On the other hand, officials described Park's testimony here as strengthening the case against one former congressman, Rep. Richard T. Hanna (D-Calif.), who was indicted in October on charges of bribery, traud and conspiracy, and accused of receiving payoffs from Park.
They said Park added considerable detail concerning alleged cash payoffs to Hanna which had been known only generally before.
[Charles McNelis, Hanna's attorney, declined comment yesterday on the report of Park's further implication of his client. "I'm in no position to evaluate the strength of his testimony until I see what he said," McNelis said.]
Park was questioned intensively here about a large volume of documents taken from his former home in Washington and elsewhere. They included ledgers recording sums of money and names of congressmen, diaries describing certain transactions, and a variety of lists of alleged gifts made by Park.
On the basis of Park's explanation of the documents, the investigators concluded that the information contained in the ledgers and diaries were generally accurate and mutually supporting, but that the lists frequently contained false accounts.
The officials declined to say what explanation Park gave for having listed fictitious transactions.
It was believed that Park may have falsified accounts to exaggerate his dealings with congressmen and to give an inflated version of the amount of money he was spending to influence Congress in Korea's behalf.
The lists, including one obtained from Park by a U.S. Customs agent in Anchorage, Alaska, included the names of members of Congress, their home states and political affiliations, their committee assignments, and observations recorded by Park.
Much of the money Park used came from fees he received as agent for rice sales from U.S. producers to Korea. He had been designated an agent for those deals by his goverment in Seoul. The indictment of Park charges that he acted as an agent of the government in attempting to influence Congress.
During the questioning here, Park was asked about each transaction described in his lists, offiicials said. The polygraph was used in an effort to determine whether he was telling the truth when he asserted he had not actually made some of the payments he had recorded. A sample question, said one official, was, "Did you lie when you said you did not pay Congressman X?"
The investigators concluded from the polygraph tests that he was not lying and that he had not mede many of the recorded payments.
The officials said Park's testimony was especially valuable in throwing light on previously reported cash payments to Hanna.
Before the questioning here, they said, there was detailed knowledge only of payments by checks made to the former California congressman.