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[Newsmaker] Ex-Minister Cho’s wife slapped with additional charges

Chung Kyung-shim (Yonhap)
Chung Kyung-shim (Yonhap)
Prosecutors on Monday indicted former Justice Minister Cho Kuk’s wife on 14 charges, including obstructing business, insider trading, embezzlement and destroying evidence. 

Chung Kyung-shim is already on trial for forging a document to support their daughter’s college application. The judge presiding over the forgery trial is likely to review her other 14 charges as well.

Chung, arrested on Oct. 23, has consistently denied most of the charges against her during six rounds of questioning by prosecutors. She refused to undergo interrogation on four occasions, citing ill health.

Over the period of trial, she could remain in detention up to six months at the call of prosecutors. Her lawyers are considering asking the court to release her on bail due to health problems.

Meanwhile, prosecutors are preparing to summon her husband Cho later this week. He is accused of complicity in some of his wife’s alleged crimes, including falsifying a document to help their daughter gain admission to college and destroying evidence.

More importantly, Cho faces accusations that he influenced battery firm WFM to undersell shares to his wife while he was a senior secretary to President Moon Jae-in. If found to be involved, he would be in violation of an ethics code for public officials and could face bribery charges.

Cho is also suspected of helping his brother to file fraudulent lawsuits against a family-owned school foundation. Prosecutors recently raided the former justice minister’s office at Seoul National University, where he teaches criminal law, and also inspected his bank records after obtaining a warrant.

Prosecutors are reportedly preparing a roughly 100-page questionnaire as they prepare to grill Cho. 

He is unlikely to address reporters when he appears at the prosecutors’ office. It was until recently customary for high-profile public figures to face the media before questioning, but prosecutors have discontinued the practice out of respect for the rights of the accused.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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