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Ex-Seoul official queried over North Korea remittances

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Published : 2014-04-30 21:03
Updated : 2014-04-30 21:03

Prosecutors questioned a former Seoul City official over his charge of illicitly remitting money to North Korea on Wednesday, just five days after he was cleared of espionage charges in an appeals court ruling.

Appearing at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, Yoo Woo-seong, a 34-year-old of North Korean-Chinese descent, vented his anger at being summoned again over illicit remittances.

“(The prosecution) is harassing me by reinvestigating me over the issue for which an indictment was suspended,” Yoo told a throng of reporters at the prosecution office in southern Seoul.
Yoo Woo-seong, a former Seoul City official at the center of a high-profile espionage scandal, answers reporters’ questions at the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office in southern Seoul on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

Prosecutors charge that Yoo led a business to make remittances to North Korean people on behalf of North Korean defectors living in the South.

From February 2007 to August 2009, Yoo is alleged to have received 2.64 billion won ($2.55 million) from some 700 defectors and wired the money to their relatives in North Korea. He is charged with pocketing around 400 million won in surcharges in violation of the local foreign exchange transactions act.

Yoo denied that he gained any economic benefit from defectors.

Another allegation against Yoo is that he concealed his Chinese citizenship, disguised himself as a North Korean defector and gained employment at the Seoul municipality from 2011-2013. These allegations were revealed after a group of North Korean defectors filed a complaint with the prosecution last month.

Prosecutors plan to question him additional times later over the allegations. As to spying allegations, they are considering whether to refer the case to the Supreme Court. The decision should come by Friday under court rules.

The espionage scandal has roiled politics for months, after state intelligence agents were found to have fabricated court evidence to press spying charges against Yoo. Opposition parties and liberals have called for a thorough overhaul of the state intelligence agency and a special probe by an independent council into the scandal.

By Song Sang-ho (sshluck@heraldcorp.com)

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