The prosecution said Monday that it had obtained three more bags of the late Yoo Byung-eun, which are believed to have been brought to a hideout of the Sewol ferry owner after the April 16 sinking disaster.
According to investigators, the three bags were found at the residence of a devotee of the Salvation Sect, which was led by Yoo, who was found dead on June 12.
“While there was no cash, premium fountain pens and other luxurious products were included in the bags,” an investigator told a news briefing.
The prosecution earlier seized seven bags, which were reportedly being carried by Yoo’s aides while he was hiding out at a vacation home in Suncheon, South Jeolla Province, and at a religious devotee’s residence.
The bags were labeled. When prosecutors found two suitcases containing 830 million won ($820,000) and $160,000 on June 27 in the southern port city Suncheon, they discovered bands labeled No. 4 and No. 5 tied to them.
Later, five guns were found in bag No. 7; bag No. 2 contained 1 billion won, while bag No. 6 had 500 million won; his personal items were in bag Nos. 3 and 8, prosecutors said.
Meanwhile, the government has launched proceedings to oblige Chonghaejin Marine Co. to make up for damages, including compensation for ferry victims’ families.
Citing a damage estimate unveiled by the Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries, the Justice Ministry said the government will call on the Sewol operator to pay at least 458 billion won.
Considering the further anticipated cost of salvaging the sunken vessel and undetermined compensation for the victims’ families, Chonghaejin Marine will be forced to pay more than 458 billion won, Justice Ministry officials said.
Over the past few months, the government has provisionally seized 121.9 billion won in wealth from Yoo’s family.
The 121.9 billion won included 1,631 plots of land nationwide, 14 vessels, 11 cars, shares worth 25.7 billion won and 2.5 billion won in cash.
On Sunday, Choo Kyung-ho, the chief of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, said the government would thoroughly push to recoup the hidden wealth of Yoo’s family.
Choo said during a vice ministers’ meeting that “otherwise, taxpayers will shoulder the burden of making up for damages worth more than 600 billion won.”
Yoo Byung-eun’s widow and brother-in-law had denied charges that they pocketed funds of sister firms of Chonghaejin Marine.
The attorney for his widow, Kwon Yoon-ja, dismissed the charges issued by the prosecution that Kwon embezzled 29.7 billion won in company funds in February 2010.
Kwon’s attorney also argued that she did not misappropriate the 2.9 billion won in funds ― raised by devotees of the Salvation Sect ― for her own personal use.
By Kim Yon-se (firstname.lastname@example.org)