Over 8 in 10 senior public officials declare wealth increase last year

More than eight in 10 ranking public officials mandated by an ethics law to annually disclose their personal wealth reported an asset increase last year, the government gazette showed Thursday.

A total of 1,978 senior government and public officials had declared an average of 1.62 billion won ($1.34 million) in personal assets as of the end of last year, marking a rise of 166.3 million won from a year earlier, the gazette said.

It found that 83 percent, or 1,641, of the officials reported an increase in assets, and the remaining 337 officials, or 17 percent, submitted a decreased wealth.

Under an anti-corruption law, senior officials at government agencies, public institutions and national universities, as well as heads of local governments, councils and education offices are required to report the status of their assets to the Government Ethics Committee once a year.

President Moon Jae-in reported his wealth at 2.19 billion won as of the end of 2021, an increase of 114 million won from the previous year, according to the gazette.

In this regard, a Cheong Wa Dae official said Moon’s after-tax gross income during his presidency was 1.64 billion won and he has spent 1.34 billion won of the amount.

Notably, Moon and his wife reported a debt increase of 1.49 billion won due to their need to finance the construction of a retirement residence in Yangsan, southeastern South Korea.

Among Cheong Wa Dae officials, Nam Young-sook, an economic advisor to the president, had the most wealth, reporting 7.57 billion won, while National Security Advisor Suh Hoon said his wealth increased by 247 million won to 4.78 billion won.

Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum declared a decrease of 33 million won in his assets to 1.51 billion won.

Minister of Government Legislation Lee Kang-seop topped the list, reporting his personal wealth at 35 billion won.

Among Cabinet ministers, Gender Equality and Family Minister Chung Young-ai reported the most wealth at 4.56 billion won, an increase of 487 million won, while Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae submitted the smallest wealth of 164 million won.

Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong reported 2.21 billion won, an increase of 15.4 million won from the previous year, while Defense Minister Suh Wook’s wealth increased by 84.1 million won to 804.8 million won.

Among the heads of local governments, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon took the first place with 5.92 billion won, an increase of 1.02 billion won.

Meanwhile, the Government Ethics Committee said 14.5 percent of senior central government officials who disclosed their wealth on the day were found to own two or more houses.

It said 118 of 816 senior central government officials, excluding Moon, had been multiple home owners as of the end of last year. Of them, 16 owned three or more houses.

The Moon government has asked civil servants who own more than one home to sell off their extra properties to help increase housing supply and stabilize the real estate market. In 2020, the ratio of multiple home owners among senior central government officials stood at 33 percent. (Yonhap)

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