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[Ferry Disaster] JYP Entertainment probed over Sewol

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Published : 2014-06-23 20:59
Updated : 2014-06-24 01:21

While some TV celebrities are suspected of having cozy relations with fugitive Yoo Byung-eun, owner of the sunken ferry Sewol, a major entertainment company has also come under the spotlight in the wake of the prosecution taking into custody his younger brother, Byung-ho.

Following the detainment of the runaway’s older brother Byung-il, investigators arrested Yoo Byung-ho late Sunday. He is the father-in-law of singer-songwriter Park Jin-young, CEO of JYP Entertainment.

The capture of Park’s father-in-law undermined shares of one of the nation’s top three entertainment firms. The stock price of JYP Ent. plunged 5.86 percent from a trading session earlier to close at 4,180 won ($4.0) on the secondary KOSDAQ on Monday.

The stock price of Park’s company has continued to drop since the April 16 ferry disaster. Its closing price was 6,080 won on April 15.

There have also been speculations that Park is a devotee of the Salvation Sect, which is reportedly led by the ill-fated ferry’s owner.

Further, law enforcement authorities and financial regulators are poised to conduct a full-fledged investigation into corporate bank accounts of JYP Entertainment to verify whether there has been shady funding between the company and units of Chonghaejin Marine Co., the operator of the ferry.

As with some relatives and the wife of Yoo Byung-eun, the 62-year-old Byung-ho has been picked up on the suspicion of embezzlement, totaling at least one billion won, from Chonghaejin Marine’s sister firms.

JYP Entertainment has publicized its position that it has not made any dubious deals with Chonghaejin or Yoo’s family. CEO Park, 42, married the second daughter of Yoo Byung-ho in October 2013.

The prosecution, however, is considering scrutinizing the company’s accounts after asking the Gwangju District Court to issue an arrest warrant for the fugitive’s brother to take him into custody this week.

On Monday, the prosecution requested a warrant for Yoo Byung-eun’s wife, Kwon Yoon-ja, who was detained last Saturday.

Meanwhile, the Gwangju District Court will open a trial on the captain and other crewmen of the sunken ferry on Tuesday.

The arraignments for captain Lee Joon-seok and some other crew members were held at the same court a week ago, where they all denied the charges against them.

The 69-year-old skipper and three crew members have been charged with homicide by willful negligence. If convicted, they could face the death penalty. The other 11 crew members have been indicted on charges of abandonment and violating a ship safety act.

By Kim Yon-se (kys@heraldcorp.com)