The House voted 31 to 2 yesterday to cite Korean businessman Hancho Kim for contempt for his refusal to answer an ethics committee question about money he allegedly received from Korean Central Intelligence Agency agent.
Debate was brief and there was no opposition, although Reps. Elizabeth Hotlzman (D.N.Y.) and Henry Gonzalez (D-Tex.) voted against the citation.
The citation resulted from Kim's refusal to answer the same question from the committee - known formally as the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct - that had previously led to a perjury conviction in federal court, which still is being appealed. The citation now goes to the U.S. attorney for action.
Kim was found guilty by the federal court jury last May of conspiring to pass $600,000 to congressmen on behalf of South Korea and of lying to a grand jury in saying he never received the money from Korean CIA agent Kim Sang Keun, the main witness against him.
U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Flannery sentenced Hancho Kim, 56, to six months in prison. The case is on appeal to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
On Aug. 24, Kim pleaded guilty to one tax evasion count before Flannery, in a plea-bargaining agreement he says he was aimed at keeping his wife, Soonduk, who filed a joint return with him, from going through a trial. He was charged with failing to declare the $600,000 allegedly passed to him in two $300,000 payments in 1974 and 1975, on his tax return.
Flannery gave him a one-year suspended sentence and fined him $10,000.
Federal prosecutors have said there was no evidence Kim ever gave any money to congressmen, only that he conspired to do so. At his sentencing on the tax counts, Kim insisted he was innocent, but said: "By pleading guilty to do this charge of income tax evasion, I do not admit to receiving any money from the Korean CIA."
Committee Chairman John Flynt (D-GA.) said he realized that if Kim answered the question he would be put in an intenable position, but that was no excuse for not answering a question from a congressional committee.
Flynt said Kim had claimed that his constitutional rights would be violated be answering the question, but Flynt said Kim had been granted "use immunity" and could not be prosecuted for his answer.