April 12, 2017 12:14
People's Party presidential candidate Ahn Cheol-soo on Tuesday revealed the finances of his daughter amid demands to prove he has not illegally passed his software fortune to her.
Ahn has been under pressure from Minjoo Party, which accused his daughter Seol-hee of owning massive real assets and dodging taxes.
Opponents also levied a number of vague charges that aim to paint him as a typical member of the establishment, potentially undermining his image as a reformer. Online rumors claimed she has U.S. citizenship, which could damage Ahn's chances among left-leaning voters.
So far Ahn had tried to shrug off the allegations as scurrilous. But when the attacks continued, Ahn's spokesman Son Kum-ju said Tuesday, "As of April of 2017, Ahn Seol-hee's assets amount to W112 million including bank deposits and insurances (US$1=W1,147)."
He said she also owns a 2013-model car priced at around US$20,000. Son added Seol-hee does not own any real estate or stocks either in Korea or in the U.S. "The assets were partly gifts from her parents and inherited from her grandparents over a long period of time plus money she saved from a portion of her $30,000-40,000 annual income," the spokesman said.
Son added Ahn paid for his daughter's tuition throughout university and until the first quarter of her first year in graduate school. According to U.S. Internal Revenue Service data, Seol-hee earned $39,313 in 2015 as a research assistant at Stanford University, where she started her doctoral degree in 2012.
When he became a lawmaker in 2013, Ahn reported that Seol-hee owned W93.9 million in assets, but he has since stopped declaring her assets saying she now supports herself.
The spokesman denied Seol-hee has a U.S. passport. He said Seol-hee was born at Seoul National University Hospital, and "has never held U.S. citizenship or applied for American residency," Son said.
According to Ahn's aides, Seol-hee went to elementary school in the U.S. in 1996-7 but then returned to Korea. She went back to the U.S. in 2002 for junior high school and has been living there since.
They also denied that she went to posh prep schools and said she in fact attended public schools in Washington state and California, where she lived either in dormitories or in small apartments that cost around $1,000 a month in rent and condominiums that cost between $2,000 and $3,000.
Minjoo was unconvinced and demanded that Ahn reveal the actual financial records. Minjoo lawmaker Chun Jae-soo told the Chosun Ilbo, "People who live there say it's impossible to support yourself through graduate school on $40,000 a year, so how could she possibly save up money?"
He called on Ahn to reveal bank transfer records to back up his claims that she supports herself. "Ahn's mother-in-law and sister-in-law are believed to have U.S. residency or citizenship. How can his daughter not have applied for residency if she's lived there for the last 15 years?" Chun added.
Ahn's camp, meanwhile, tried to turn the tables on his Minjoo rival Moon Jae-in, demanding that Moon respond to allegations that his son was given a plum civil-service job at the Korea Employment Information Service as a special favor. The KEIS chief at the time had been a subordinate of Moon's in the presidential office, and the hiring process was decidedly murky.
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