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Prosecution indicts Sewol owner’s son

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Published : 2014-08-12 21:38
Updated : 2014-08-12 21:38

The prosecution on Tuesday indicted Yoo Dae-kyun and his associates for their involvement in the Sewol ferry tragedy.

As for Yoo Byung-eun, Yoo Dae-kyun’s father and the de facto owner of the ferry, the prosecution said its right of arraignment cannot be applied due to his death.

Along with the junior Yoo, who is accused of illegally receiving 7.3 billion won ($7.1 million) from companies effectively owned by his family since 2002, Park Soo-kyung and a member of the Salvation Sect identified by the surname Ha have also been indicted. The Salvation Sect is a loosely Christian cult founded and led by the Yoo family.

Park is a close associate of the Yoo family who aided Yoo Dae-kyun as he evaded arrest. Ha is also in custody on charges of aiding Yoo.

The Korean authorities are said to be cooperating with their U.S. counterparts to secure Yoo Hyuk-gi, Yoo Byung-eun’s second son who is thought to have played a more central role in the family’s businesses.

Since the accident, in which more than 300 people were left dead or missing, the authorities have been investigating the Yoo family. They uncovered a series of financial crimes including embezzlement and tax evasion linked to the family.

Although the authorities conducted a massive manhunt lasting more than two months for the elder Yoo, it was revealed last month that he was dead and his body had been in police custody for more than a month.

The elder Yoo was accused of embezzlement, tax evasion and dereliction of duty, which the authorities believe led to the Sewol’s mismanagement and sinking.

According to the prosecution’s investigation, Yoo had caused damages of 129.1 billion won at the Sewol’s operator Cheonghaejin Marine Co. and affiliates, and evaded 15.9 billion won in taxes.

The investigation has now resulted in 34 indictments including Yoo Dae-kyun and nine other members of the Yoo family and their associates.

As for Yang Hoe-jeong, Yoo Byung-eun’s driver who turned himself in last month, and key Salvation Sect member Kim Myung-sook, the prosecution intends to conduct further investigations before deciding whether to indict them.

Kim is thought to have played a critical role in Yoo Byung-eun’s evasion of the authorities until his death in June.

Kim has also since been found to have held 1.5 billion won in cash and several pistols on behalf of Yoo Byung-eun.

The cash and the weapons were found at the home of Kim’s relative in Gyeonggi Province on Monday. The investigators believe that Yoo had prepared the money and weapons to aid his escape from the authorities.

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

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