President Park Geun-hye was dealt another blow Monday after her nominee for smaller business policy withdrew apparently due to a rule that compels high-level officials to dispose of personal assets.
Hwang Chul-joo, CEO of semiconductor manufacturing equipment maker Jusung Engineering, was tapped Friday to head the Small and Medium Business Administration.
He asked Park to cancel the nomination during the weekend and Park accepted his decision, according to the government agency.
He became the third high-level nominee to drop out before taking office after former prime ministerial designate Kim Yong-joon, and Kim Jeong-hoon, who was chosen to lead the new science ministry.
Hwang said that the decision was made in light of concerns over possible impact on his company’s small minor shareholders.
“(I) resigned due to concerns for damages small shareholders will sustain after the largest stakeholder’s shares are sold as required when taking public office,” Hwang was quoted as saying in the local media.
“I agreed to head the SMBA thinking that the shares could be entrusted to a financial institution. (I) did not realize that private investors will sustain losses when share prices drop after all (my) shares are sold.”
Hwang also said that he felt that he would lose credibility as a businessman if he gave up his company in favor of public office, and that he decided to resign as soon as possible to avoid hampering the new government’s small and medium-sized enterprise policies.
Under the Public Service Ethics Act, a public official who is required to disclose his or her assets and hold stocks valued at more than 30 million won ($26,800) must sell them or place them under the control of a financial institution. The institution is then required to dispose of the stocks within 60 days.
Hwang holds about 25 percent of his company, while his wife holds 1.7 percent. Hwang and his wife’s stakes in the company are worth about 69.5 billion won and 4.8 billion won, respectively.
The resignation comes a day after the ruling Saenuri Party and the Democratic United Party reached an agreement over the government restructuring bill, as part of which the authority of the SMBA chief will be strengthened.
Under the bipartisan agreement, the SMBA chief will attend Cabinet meetings, and be given the power to request the authorities to look into unfair trading practices.
By Choi He-suk (firstname.lastname@example.org