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(LEAD) FSS chief offers to resign after election watchdog finds past political donation unlawful

All Headlines 21:16 April 16, 2018

(ATTN: UPDATES with President Moon planning to accept Kim's resignation; ADDS background, photo)

SEOUL, April 16 (Yonhap) -- Financial Supervisory Service Gov. Kim Ki-sik offered to resign Monday after the country's election watchdog concluded that the former legislator breached the law in 2016 when he donated money to a lawmakers' association led by him.

Kim has been widely expected to step down following the National Election Commission's decision, as President Moon Jae-in had pledged to sack him if any illegality was found in his past acts, including the so-called "self donation" and overseas trips Kim took with money from institutions under the oversight of his parliamentary committee.

President Moon Jae-in plans to accept the resignation, a Cheong Wa Dae official said.

(LEAD) FSS chief offers to resign after election watchdog finds past political donation unlawful - 1

Kim donated 50 million won (US$46,566) to the association of Democratic Party lawmakers, named "The Better Future," in May 2016 right before his term as a lawmaker ended. Critics have charged that the money was part of Kim's leftover political funds and he should have returned it to state coffers.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party has claimed that Kim went ahead with the controversial donation even after the election watchdog warned in response to his own query that it would be violating the election law if a lawmaker donated money to a non-profit organization as its member.

Kim has also been under pressure to resign following revelations that three overseas trips he made as a lawmaker in 2014 and 2015 were funded by financial and research institutions under the oversight of his parliamentary financial committee.

The election watchdog said that such trips could be problematic as they could amount to accepting political funds but that they should be looked into individually and in detail to determine whether they are in violation of the law.

Kim's resignation came just two weeks after he assumed office.

The exit of Kim, a former civic activist who led the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, one of South Korea's leading civic groups, is expected to deal a blow to the administration of President Moon.

Kim has apologized for the controversy but insists that no favors were given to the institutions that paid for the trips. The LKP and the minor opposition Bareunmirae Party filed a complaint with the prosecution claiming that the trips amount to bribes.

At first, the presidential office Cheong Wa Dae sought to defend Kim, saying the trips might appear inappropriate but were "legitimate." As public criticism snowballed, President Moon said Friday he would sack Kim if any illegality was found in Kim's past acts.

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