Park copies rival Moon to sell campaign funds

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Park copies rival Moon to sell campaign funds

Park Geun-hye, the presidential candidate of the Saenuri Party, joined the trend of selling investment products to the public to finance her campaign yesterday, following the initiatives of her liberal rival Moon Jae-in of the Democratic United Party.

According to the Saenuri Party, the sale of Park’s “Promise Fund” began at 10 a.m. yesterday. The presidential candidate aimed to raise 25 billion won ($23 million), 45 percent of the maximum campaign fund that she can use, through selling the products.

The minimum amount for investment is 10,000 won and there is no limit.

The product was sold with an annual 3.1 percent interest rate and she will pay back her investors on Feb. 28, one day after she collects campaign fund reimbursements from the National Election Commission.

The conservative ruling party and her campaign earlier said she will finance her campaign by taking out loans from banks, but she apparently changed the plan to follow in the footsteps of her liberal competitors.

Moon was the first presidential candidate to sell the investment product and Ahn Cheol-soo, who exited the race on Friday, also raised money by selling funds.

Moon began selling his investment product on Oct. 22 and raised more than 20.1 billion won within 56 hours.

He also planned to offer the product for a second time starting Nov. 15 to recruit another 100,000 investors, but postponed the schedule in order to accommodate Ahn, whom he was negotiating with Moon about merging their presidential bid.

At the time, Ahn launched a similar investment product on Nov. 13 with an aim to raise 2.8 billion won, and the Moon campaign said it will delay the schedule of the second offer “for the success of the Ahn Cheol-soo fund.”

According to Woo Won-shik, a senior manager of the Moon campaign, the postponed sale of the fund will resume soon since Ahn dropped out from the race and Moon officially registered his candidacy.

Ahn raised about 1.4 billion won from 32,000 people from Nov. 13 to his exit from the race on Friday.

When the fund was first offered on Nov. 13, Ahn managed to raise 10 billion won within 32 hours, but the investment was sold drastically slowly as his negotiation with Moon continued to hit roadblocks.

According to Ahn’s campaign, the money will be returned to the investors since he is no longer a part of the presidential race.

The campaign didn’t spend any money collected from the investors and left the deposit in its account, the Ahn campaign said.

Following the necessary paperwork, the investors will receive their money back starting this week, a notice posted on the fund’s Internet site said.

In addition to raising money by selling investment products, Park and Moon are eligible to receive state subsidies for the campaign as they represent major political parties.

Based on the election law, Park, who represents the largest political party, was assigned to No. 1 on the roster, while Moon was give No. 2. and Lee Jung-hee of the Unified Progressive Party was assigned No. 3.

Sim Sang-jeong of the Progressive Justice Party announced yesterday her decision to drop out from the race, so the independent candidates including Kang Ji-won will be assigned to their numbers starting No. 4 based on the outcome of a draw.

Park, Moon and Lee completed their candidacy registrations on Sunday and their personal information including tax payment records and assets were revealed on the Internet site of the National Election Commission.

As of late December last year, Park reported to have 2.18 billion won in her assets including her residence in Samseong-dong, southern Seoul.

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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