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Gallery Seomi chief may facearrest in Orion slush fund case

Prosecutors requested a local court on Wednesday to issue an arrest warrant for Hong Song-won, head of Gallery Seomi, one of the most prominent art galleries in Korea, for laundering slush funds of business conglomerate Orion Group.

According to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, Hong received 4 billion won ($3.7 million) in slush funds from Orion last year and bought several pieces of art for them, concealing the illegal funds and evading tax.

The nation’s 60th largest conglomerate has raised slush funds by embezzling construction expenses for a luxury residence in southern Seoul, prosecutors said. Orion chairman Dam Chul-gon is suspected of taking an exorbitant 200 percent profit of 8.7 billion won by purchasing shares of the group’s subsidiaries at improperly below-market value.

The court is scheduled to rule on whether to issue an arrest warrant for Hong on Monday.

Tax authorities reported suspicions that Orion had evaded tax to the prosecution in August, and the prosecutors raided its group headquarters in March.

By Bae Ji-sook (