Moon tells reps to complete prosecutor general process
President Moon Jae-in told the National Assembly to wrap up the confirmation process for his nominee for prosecutor general, Kim Oh-soo, after opposition lawmakers highlighted examples of ethical lapses in his past.
Moon told the National Assembly to send a confirmation hearing report to him by Monday, presidential spokeswoman Park Kyung-mee said in a text message on Thursday.
The Assembly held Kim's confirmation hearing on Wednesday. The deadline for it to send a report to the Blue House was Wednesday. No report was received as of Thursday.
According to the law governing the confirmation process of a top government official, the president has the right to assign a deadline within a 10-day period. If no confirmation report is sent by the deadline, the president can appoint the nominee.
Moon nominated Kim to head the prosecution service on May 3. Kim, a former prosecutor, served as vice minister of justice from June 2018 through April 2020.
Wednesday’s confirmation hearing was a mandatory step before his appointment. No vote, however, is required for Moon to formally appoint Kim.
If Moon appoints Kim without the National Assembly’s confirmation, Kim will be the 32nd minister-level official in this administration to take office without bipartisan support.
The opposition People Power Party (PPP) has protested Kim's nomination, citing his alleged lack of ethics and possible violations of the law.
As a private lawyer, Kim represented bank executives involved in two large financial frauds just five months after resigning as vice justice minister, which opposition lawmakers said was a violation of the Attorney-At-Law Act. According to that law, a lawyer who served in a government post is prohibited for a year from taking a case handled by his former office.
After he joined HwaHyun law firm in August 2020, Kim joined the defense teams of bank executives who sold products offered by two troubled private equity funds, Lime Asset Management and Optimus Asset Management.
Last September, Kim joined the defense team representing executives of Woori Bank, which sold Lime’s products to investors. Last December, he also joined a team representing executives of NH Investment and Securities, which sold Optimus Asset Management’s products.
Lime and Optimus have been unable to return over 2 trillion won in customer investments. Financial regulators have said they suspect the money is unavailable due to bad investments, Ponzi-like schemes and possible fraud. Prosecutors also investigated suspicions that operators of the funds lobbied key members of the Moon administration and the ruling party.
At the confirmation hearing, Kim said he had not defended the fraudulent fund operators. He, however, refused to clearly identify his clients, citing his duty as a lawyer to maintain confidentiality.
BY SER MYO-JA [firstname.lastname@example.org]