(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with Cheong Wa Dae spokesman's statement, minister's remarks, more background info; ADDS byline)
By Lee Chi-dong
SEOUL, Nov. 3 (Yonhap) -- Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki tendered his resignation Tuesday to take responsibility for causing "confusion" related to a stock trade taxation policy, but President Moon Jae-in rejected it, Cheong Wa Dae officials said.
Hong, who doubles as deputy prime minister for economy, expressed his intention to resign during a separate meeting with the president right after a weekly Cabinet meeting at the presidential compound, according to Cheong Wa Dae spokesman Kang Min-seok.
"President Moon immediately turned it down and renewed confidence (in the minister's work)," Kang said in a brief press release.
Another Cheong Wa Dae official quoted Hong as telling Moon that he is sorry for triggering "confusion" so far regarding policy measures.
His ministry, in particular, had pushed for lowering the bar on requirements for major shareholders of listed firms that are subject to stock transfer taxes under an income tax law.
Currently, a major shareholder is defined as a person or entity that holds shares worth 1 billion won ($860,000) or more. Hong's ministry wanted to cut the cap to 300 million won, effective in April next year, drawing a strong backlash from the market.
Many voiced concern that it would bring about a negative impact on the local equity market, especially as individual investors would go on a selling spree in the coming months to avoid the transfer tax.
An online petition calling for the dismissal of the minister, posted on Cheong Wa Dae's website, has received more than 230,000 signatures.
Speaking at the National Assembly's strategy and finance committee, Hong said the government has decided to maintain the current criteria in consideration of the recent security conditions and growing economic uncertainties.
He cited the outcome of high-level consultations with the presidential office and the ruling Democratic Party.
Hong said he wanted to take a responsible attitude for the two-month-long controversy over the pros and cons of the scheme to change the regulations.
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