Lee You-jung, President Moon Jae-in’s pick for Constitutional Court justice, withdrew her nomination Friday over allegations of dubious gains from stock transactions.
Lee has reaped 530 million won ($472,000) from trading a number of stocks listed on the Seoul bourse in the relatively short period of eight months, drawing suspicion she might have relied on insider information.
In a statement, the lawyer and a law professor at Ewha Law School said she did not wish to burden President Moon and the Constitutional Court.
“I categorically deny allegations that I somehow resorted to illicit means such as using insider information to seek financial profit,” Lee said.
“However, I understand, by being embroiled in this controversy, I failed to meet the public’s scrutiny and expectations required of one of the highest public posts. I therefore will step down as nominee.”
Still, she urged the Moon administration to continue its efforts to diversify the makeup of the Constitutional Court.
Her withdrawal came only days after a National Assembly confirmation hearing Monday where the allegation was first raised that her wealth surged in only a couple of years mainly through stock transactions.
According to data submitted during the hearing, Lee gained 1.2 billion won through stock trading in less than 19 months after the value of the shares she owned increased nearly five-fold from 290 million won to 1.5 billion won.
Out of her personal wealth of about 1.65 billion won, 91 percent, or 1.51 billion won was held in the form of shares.
She is suspected of buying shares in Naturalendo Tech, a biopharmaceutical company, with the knowledge that it would soon be listed on the stock market.
Lee allegedly got the information from one of her clients who had access to the company’s plan.
She bought the stocks in September 2014 and sold them in May 2015, which netted her a 530 million won profit.
Meanwhile, the Financial Services Commission, the country’s financial watchdog is expected to launch an investigation into the allegations following a petition filed by Rep. Oh Shin-hwan of the National Assembly Legislation and Judiciary Committee.“Lee sold off the stocks when the price was high, and bought soon after they plunged, which is a typical pattern of selling and buying used by stock manipulators,” said Oh, a member of the Bareun Party.
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party said Lee stepping down as nominee was the only right course of action.
“Lee claimed to be a human rights advocate but in reality she was an interest advocate. Her stepping down is an expected outcome,” the party said.
Both the LKP and the Bareun Party demanded that the Cheong Wa Dae personnel screening system as a whole be thoroughly scrutinized following what they called a “disaster caused by recruiting only based on political and ideological orientation.”
“President Moon’s closest aides that recommended Lee should be held duly accountable. They are apparently failing him by sidelining the fair or politically neutral voices of concern,” the LKP said “Also, the matter concerning illegal stock trading requires further investigation and subsequent judicial determination.”
In response, Cheong Wa Dae said it respected Lee’s decision but stressed that the allegation remains unconfirmed.
/Rep. Kang Ji Hyun
저작권자 © 위키리크스한국 무단전재 및 재배포 금지