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Prosecutors to summon ex-Justice Minister Cho Kuk

Former Justice Minister Cho Kuk will likely face questioning by prosecutors later this week over corruption allegations involving his family.

Cho Kuk (Yonhap)
Cho Kuk (Yonhap)

Prosecutors will summon Cho no later than Monday, Nov. 11, the final day of detention for Chung Kyung-shim. Chung, Cho’s wife, was taken into custody Oct. 23, and she has been questioned on four occasions since.

Cho’s alleged crimes are threefold.

First, while Cho was a senior secretary to President Moon Jae-in, he is accused of influencing his wife to purchase shares in the battery firm WFM at a price lower than market value.

Second, Cho is accused of complicity in other alleged crimes by his wife, including fabricating a document to support their daughter’s university application and destroying evidence.

Third, Cho is accused of helping his brother to file fraudulent lawsuits against a family-owned school foundation.

The former justice minister’s brother, Cho Kwon, is in custody on charges of embezzlement and bribery in connection with a school foundation run by the Cho family, as well as charges of obstructing business, abetting the destruction of evidence and harboring a fugitive.

But the former justice minister may appear for questioning later than expected. Prosecutors balked at rigorously investigating his wife, who refused to undergo questioning at times, saying she was in poor health.

Chung, who has denied most of the charges against her, is said to be planning to petition the court to reconsider her arrest on health grounds.

She has also asked prosecutors for a copy of the investigation records so that she can prepare for trial, but the prosecutors have turned down the request because the investigation is still underway.

In addition, prosecutors are considering whether to summon Cho Kuk’s mother and question her about the corruption allegations against the family, but they are cautious about subjecting her to a lengthy interrogation because of her advanced age.

Prosecutors have placed Cho’s wife and brother in separate detention centers and plan to call them in individually for questioning.

By Choi Si-young (