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[Newsmaker] Ruling party concentrates fire on Yoon over wife’s alleged stock manipulation

Lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea hold up placards reading “Stock manipulation is real! Arrest Kim Keon-hee,” in front of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
Lawmakers of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea hold up placards reading “Stock manipulation is real! Arrest Kim Keon-hee,” in front of the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

The ruling Democratic Party of Korea on Wednesday slammed Yoon Suk-yeol, the presidential candidate of the main opposition party, accusing him of hiding the truth about his wife’s alleged involvement in a stock manipulation case.

“Yoon will lose in the presidential election because of Kim Keon-hee’s stock manipulation charges,” Rep. Woo Sang-ho of the ruling party said, speaking at a campaign committee meeting Wednesday. Woo is chief of the campaign committee for Lee Jae-myung, the presidential candidate of the ruling party.

Kim Keon-hee is the wife of People Power Party candidate Yoon.

A day earlier, SBS reported that Kim had gained profits of some 900 million won ($755,000) from stock trading from 2010 to early 2011, during which she has been alleged of involvement in stock manipulation of Deutsch Motors, a BMW car dealer in South Korea.

Woo said evidence continues to emerge that proves Kim was involved in the stock manipulation.

“Yoon said there has not been any stock trading since May 2010, and that (his wife) actually suffered losses. He also acted like he did not know anything during the TV candidate debate on Monday,” Rep. Woo said.

“How can we forgive an economic criminal who causes harm to others? I urge Yoon to explain the truth.”

Citing data it acquired from prosecutors, the news outlet reported that Kim apparently had bought 470,000 shares of the auto dealership from October to the end of November in 2010, with one sale of 1,000 shares.

She soon sold 570,000 shares of the stock, including shares bought earlier, by the end of January 2011, to earn about 942 million won over the short period, according to the report.

Following the report, the main opposition People Power Party denied the accusation and said the press coverage had “distorted the facts.”

“Kim is not involved in the stock manipulation scheme. The prosecution has been investigating the case for two years but has failed to bring charges against Kim due to lack of evidence,” Lee Yang-soo, a campaign spokesperson for Yoon, said in a statement.

“We express regret over the broadcaster’s coverage citing unauthentic sources of information on a case that is still being investigated by the prosecution.”

Lee also said the party will take legal action against the report because “the source of information is unclear, and the cited data is clearly illegal.”

Lee explained that Kim traded Deutsch Motors stock from 2009 to 2017, and saw both gains and losses.

Last year, the prosecution arrested Deutsch Motors CEO Kwon Oh-soo, who is suspected of playing a leading role in manipulating the firm’s stock prices to the tune of 65 billion won over about three years, starting in late 2009.

Kim is accused of having participated in the manipulation scheme via a broker surnamed Lee, who managed Kim’s stock accounts.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com
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