Presidential secretary in controversy over property speculation allegations

SEOUL, Kim Gi-pyo, presidential secretary for anti-corruption, has been mired in a controversy over real estate speculation by taking out multimillion dollar loans.

Kim, who was appointed to the position in March, reported to the government that he owns real estate worth 9.12 billion won (US$8.08 million) while having financial liabilities of 5.62 billion won, according to data.

His registered properties include two commercial stores in Seoul worth 6.55 billion won combined; an apartment in the city of Seongnam, south of Seoul, worth 1.45 billion won; and forest land adjacent to a district currently under development in Gwangju, Gyeonggi Province, worth 830 million won.

"He made the investment when he worked as a lawyer," an official of the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae said. "He is now trying to sell some of what he now has."

Kim, who worked as a prosecutor, served as a lawyer between 2014 and 2021.

While denying the speculation allegations, Kim apologized "for causing misunderstanding" and vowed to "swiftly" dispose of some of the assets, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesperson Park Kyung-mee.

President Moon Jae-in's replacement of the anti-corruption secretary in March came amid his push to root out corruption in the public service following the report of a massive land speculation scandal involving some officials at the state-run Korea Land & Housing Corp. (LH).

The main opposition People Power Party (PPP) lashed out at Kim and the presidential office and demanded his immediate resignation.

Real estate is one of the most sensitive issues in South Korea recently, as home prices and rent have skyrocketed under the Moon government.

In March 2019, then presidential spokesperson Kim Eui-kum stepped down over allegations he made a speculative real estate investment in a lucrative urban redevelopment zone in Seoul.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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