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Lawmakers push for special law to investiage Choi’s assets

Opposition lawmakers are pushing to introduce a special act to investigate the source of the wealth of scandal-riven presidential confidante Choi Soon-sil and her family.

“I intend to provide the legal basis for investigating how the Chois accumulated their wealth and also for redeeming the illegitimate part of their assets,” Rep. Min Byung-doo of the main opposition Democratic Party of Korea wrote on Facebook.

The third-term lawmaker plans to hold a public hearing on the issue as early as this week, submit the draft bill within the month and have it passed in the National Assembly by year-end.

Rep. Chae Yi-bae, a lawmaker from the centrist People’s Party, said that he would also propose a similar bill. The activist-turned-lawmaker said that his legislation includes clauses designed to recover assets amassed illegally by the Chois. 

Choi Soon-sil (Yonhap)
Choi Soon-sil (Yonhap)
Choi Soon-sil, who currently stands at the center of the nationwide dispute that she actively manipulated key state affairs by using her close ties with President Park Geun-hye, is said to have exerted influence on a number of state-run businesses. This history of alleged illicit profiteering traces back to her father, the late cult leader Choi Tae-min.

“Not only did the Chois abuse their influence over public servants, but they also used public foundations and educational organizations to build their massive wealth,” Min said.

“Though it is difficult to hold the Choi family liable for their financial achievements in the private sector, the special bill will enable the authorities to punish them for raking in money through public organizations.”

A similar bill had been motioned by the opposition and passed in 2013 to redeem the illicit assets of public servants -- dubbed the Chun Doo-hwan act, after the former autocratic president. But in order to regulate the Chois, who hold no official government posts, a new special act is needed, according to the lawmaker.

Considering that the parliamentary legislation and judiciary committee consist of an opposition majority, the bill is likely to make it to the general meeting for a full floor vote.

By Bae Hyun-jung (