Monday, March 07, 2005

S Korea's finance minister quits

By Anna Fifield, The Financial Times, March 7, 2005

South Korea's finance minister finally bowed to public pressure and resigned on Monday, after he and his wife were accused of making more than US$6m from illegal property sales.

There had been increasingly fervent calls for Lee Hun-jai's resignation since details of the property transactions - coinciding with a government clampdown on real estate speculation - emerged at the end of last month. However, Mr Lee insisted he had done nothing wrong. “[Mr Lee] will take responsibility for all the doubt arising from this incident,” Kim Gyeong-ho, ministry spokesman, said on Monday morning. “However, on his part there was no intention of speculating in real estate.”

The scandal erupted on February 28 when ministers' asset declarations were published and it emerged the Lee family's assets had risen by Won6.6bn in seven years, largely due to the sale of rural land owned by Mr Lee's wife, Jin Jin-sook.-------------

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