President Moon Jae-in has stressed the need to get to the bottom of illegal speculation by public officials, regardless of their positions or political interests.
At a session Monday of the Anti-Corruption Policy Consultative Council bringing together top officials from related ministries and government agencies Moon called for all administrative and investigative powers to be deployed to seek a solution to what he called the “structural and fundamental” problem of real estate corruption.

“More people may be subject to investigation along the way. Do not stop; do not consider the political advantages or disadvantages, and get to the bottom of this. Any illegal activity must be punished sternly, and illicit gains must be confiscated. I also ask you to look into transactions done under false names, as well as tax evasion, illegal funds and unfair loans linked to speculation.”

Under measures unveiled after the meeting all civil servants will have to register their assets and any changes will be monitored.
There will be stricter punishments for officials who use non-public information to engage in speculation and any illicit gains will be confiscated.
The government will also raise the tax rates on gains from transactions of land owned for less than two years, while introducing tighter regulations on non-residential mortgage lending for public officials.
It will also set up a new surveillance body that will oversee unfair real estate transactions.

“Our aim is to eradicate speculation and other types of real estate corruption. We want to bring about change at property-related public agencies, including LH, and to restore public trust in the government’s real estate policies.”

The measures come in response to a scandal at the state housing corporation LH in which public officials are accused of using insider information to buy plots of land before they were announced as part of major housing development projects.
A government probe is currently underway.

Separately on Monday, President Moon replaced his policy chief, Kim Sang-jo, following reports that he raised the deposit on an apartment he is renting out by 14 percent just days before a new law limited the increase to five percent.
The top office said that Kim had offered to resign and that Moon’s decision reflects the seriousness of the real estate situation.
Moon promoted to the post his senior secretary for economic affairs, Lee Ho-seung.
Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.

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