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Kumho Petrochem chief grilled in slush fund case

Kumho Petrochemical Chairman Park Chan-koo was on Friday summoned by prosecutors over allegations that he created slush funds and gained illegal profit on the back of exclusive, internal information.

The prosecution believes the slush funds may amount to up to 30 billion won ($27.7 million).

Park, however, denied any wrongdoing, saying he would “clear everything” during the questioning session.

Park also said his estranged elder brother Park Sam-koo was “involved,” implicating that the authorities were after the wrong man. 
Kumho Petrochemical Chairman Park Chan-koo
Kumho Petrochemical Chairman Park Chan-koo

Early on in the investigation, there had been rumors that the elder Park ― chairman of Kumho Asiana Group ― enlisted the support of his confidantes to get the prosecution on Kumho Petrochemical’s case.

The fact that the allegedly illegal funds were found in accounts belonging to Park Sam-koo is adding credibility to the younger Park’s claims, industry watchers said.

Kumho Petrochemical on Friday said in a statement that the chairman had not used internal information in any way when when he disposed of his Kumho Industrial shares and purchased Kumho Petrochemical stocks.

“The sole objective of the transaction was to achieve independent management rights,” the company said.

Officials of Kumho Asiana declined to comment.

The two Kumho brothers have more or less severed ties after a family feud in 2009, after which they both stepped down from office.

But Park Chan-koo returned to his post in March last year, while his brother Sam-koo returned later on in November as chairman of Kumho Asiana Group.

The separation proved to be a good one for Kumho Petrochemical, which posted its highest-ever operating profit of 363.5 billion won last year.

Kumho Asiana Group was not so fortunate and is still under a debt workout program.

For this reason, the younger Park has been trying to legally separate Kumho Petrochemical from the ailing Kumho Asiana Group.

Kumho Petrochemical on Friday ended at 246,500 won, down 0.6 percent from the previous day.

By Kim Ji-hyun (jemmie@heraldcorp.com)
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