[Weekender] China’s rising clout in Korea

Ex-official indicted for sending money to N.K.

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Published : 2014-05-11 20:24
Updated : 2014-05-11 20:24

A former Seoul official who was cleared of charges of spying in a high profile espionage case last month was indicted again on charges of sending money to North Korea with other defectors.

Yoo Woo-seong, 34, was booked without detention for violating the currency exchange law and obstruction of justice, prosecutors said on Sunday.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutor’s Office indicted him for allegations that he illegally sent about 2.7 billion won ($2.6 million) to North Korea between 2005 and 2009.

Yoo, an ethnic North Korean-Chinese who worked for the metropolitan city office for three years, is suspected of helping other defectors to transfer money to North Korea via China. The prosecution believes that Yoo was involved in more than 1,600 cases of illicit currency transactions requested by defectors here wishing to send money to their relatives in the North. The brokers of the illegal money transfers usually get a 30 percent commission fee. Yoo allegedly sent money to his uncle’s account in China which was then delivered to the North, the prosecution said.

Yoo was previously acquitted in two lower courts over spying for Pyongyang while working for the Seoul city government between 2011 and 2013. It was later revealed that the national spy agency fabricated Chinese government documents to frame him. The prosecution has appealed to the Supreme Court.

Yoo was summoned last month over the allegations but refused to answer questions, the prosecution said.

He reportedly has admitted that he borrowed his uncle’s account, but denied that he made financial profits from it.

The prosecution also charged Yoo with interfering in civil servants’ duties. Yoo allegedly failed to disclose his Chinese nationality to work at the municipal government, the prosecution said.

Yoo’s position as a contract civil servant at Seoul Metropolitan Government in 2011 turned out to be only eligible for North Korean defectors. Yoo, born in North Korea, is officially a Chinese citizen. Yoo purportedly submitted a document proving that he was a North Korean defector to the city government, prosecutors said.

By Lee Hyun-jeong  (rene@heraldcorp.com)

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