SEOUL, March 25 (Yonhap) -- President Park Geun-hye's nominee for South Korea's corporate watchdog offered to resign on Monday amid allegations that he has been holding secret overseas bank accounts to evade taxes.
Han Man-soo, a law professor at Ewha Womans University, was appointed on March 14 to lead the Fair Trade Commission (FTC).
"Controversy is arising over whether I am suitable for the job or not and even the schedule of the confirmation hearing has yet to be determined, which resulted in hampering the government from getting off to a smooth start," Han said.
"From this time, I am resigning from the nominee for the FTC and returning to my work at school, and I will find out what I can do for our country and people as a scholar."
Media reports are raising suspicions that Han has been holding a large amount of money in slush funds in overseas secret bank accounts and engaging in tax evasion in the process.
He has also been criticized for his career at a major law firm known to represent the benefits of large corporations, a stance out of synch with Park's commitment to economic democratization.
This marked the sixth time a high-ranking official appointed or promoted by Park has stepped down amid controversies either over lack of qualifications or questions over moral standards in the confirmation process.
His resignation comes as the FTC will have to play a major role in pushing for polices related to economic democratization, a key campaign pledge by Park who promised to ease excessive concentration of wealth among a few large conglomerates.
The president, in particular, has been critical of family-run business groups, known as chaebol, for taking advantage of their market dominance to maximize their benefits at the expense of smaller companies.
Concerns are growing that Han's departure could delay the overall process of seeking economic democratization.
Some even worry that his resignation amid a spate of suspicions and controversies might deal a blow to the FTC's reputation and status as a market watchdog tasked with cracking down on illegalities taking place in the corporate sector.
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