Moon urges eradication of corruption over LH officials' alleged land speculation: Cheong Wa Dae

Moon urges eradication of corruption over LH officials' alleged land speculation: Cheong Wa Dae

Mar 04, 2021

Seoul (South Korea), March 4: President Moon Jae-in issued another strong message Thursday on allegations that employees of a state housing cooperation used secret information on a residential area development project for land speculation.
He ordered the government to confirm if the scandal is attributable to "deep-rooted corruption," according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok.
If so, the government should "eradicate" the problem, the president was quoted as adding.
Moon stressed the need for the government to conduct a "swift and stern" probe, while the Board of Audit and Inspection can take action at its own discretion.
Moon's call came as the prime minister's office plans to launch a task force later in the day at his instruction.
The interagency team is poised to expand the probe to determine whether officials at the land ministry and other relevant public agencies, not just the Korea Land and Housing Corporation (LH), and their families are involved in the insider trading scandal.
Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun is scheduled to explain the plan in person for the establishment of the task force and its investigation during a press briefing to be held in the afternoon, a senior official said, requesting anonymity.
The previous day, Moon instructed the authorities to examine every detail of all recent land transactions in several areas near Seoul designated by his government for a massive redevelopment project.
Last month, the land ministry announced a scheme to create large apartment compounds in Gwangmyeong and Siheung, just southwest of Seoul, in a bid to stop people from rushing to purchase homes often in a frenzied way.
Housing prices have skyrocketed since the launch of the left-leaning Moon administration in May 2017, data shows.
In 2018 and 2019, the government picked five other regions in Incheon and Gyeonggi Province for the nation's latest new town construction project around Seoul, the third since the late 1980s.
Civil servants in charge of land development in Seoul, Incheon and Gyeonggi Province as well as staffers at related public organizations are expected to face investigation as well.
A candidate to lead the team is Choi Chang-won, a vice minister of government policy coordination at the prime minister's office.
Citing an unspecified tip-off, the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy and Minbyun, an association of progressive lawyers, earlier claimed that more than a dozen LH employees have speculated in the Gwangmyeong-Siheung area.
The employees are accused of buying some 23,000 square meters of farmland for about 10 billion won (US$8.88 million) from April 2018 to June 2020, using possibly classified information.
The LH soon said 12 employees have been suspended from duty in connection with the allegations.
Source: Yonhap