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[Ferry Disaster] Mogul faces tax, graft probe

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Published : 2014-04-24 21:08
Updated : 2014-04-24 23:25

Yoo Byung-eon
Authorities are to track financial transactions of former Semo Group chairman Yoo Byung-eon and his family in connection to irregularities by the sunken ferry Sewol’s operator Chonghaejin Marine Co.


In addition, the Busan District Prosecutors’ Office raided the Korean Register of Shipping (KR), which is responsible for ensuring the structural integrity of ships, as the probe expands across the shipping industry.

KR is suspected of taking bribes in return for conducting lax inspections and allowing substandard vessels such as the Sewol to continue operating.

With the investigations into the company and the cause of the accident gains speed, the investigators are reportedly planning a probe into the handling of the accident, which would bring civil servants including Coast Guard officials under scrutiny.

Ahn Sang-dong of Gwangju High Prosecutors’ Office told reporters that a “proper investigation” will be conducted on the issue.

Also on Thursday, four more crew members were arrested, bringing all 15 of the ship’s crew involved in operating the vessel into custody.

As the investigators delved deeper into Chonghaejin Marine Co., Yoo is suspected to have been behind the irregularities that led to the lax operations of the vessel.

Along with I-One-I Holdings, Chonghaejin Marine Co., founded from the remains of the defunct Semo Marine Co., is at the center of a complex shareholding structure involving 12 sister companies. I-One-I is the holding company with the largest stake in Chonghaejin Marine Co. Yoo’s two sons ― Yoo Dae-gyun and Yoo Hyeok-gi ― are I-One-I’s largest shareholders.

Meanwhile financial authorities are to launch a special investigation to determine whether companies owned by the Yoo family were extended illegal loans.

By Choi He-suk (cheesuk@heraldcorp.com)

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