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[Newsmaker] Court to begin trials Friday for ex-YG chief in whistleblower blackmail case

This Nov. 9, 2019, file photo shows Yang Hyun-suk, former CEO of YG Entertainment, entering the Gyeonggi Nambu Police Agency building in Suwon, south of Seoul. (Yonhap)
This Nov. 9, 2019, file photo shows Yang Hyun-suk, former CEO of YG Entertainment, entering the Gyeonggi Nambu Police Agency building in Suwon, south of Seoul. (Yonhap)
A Seoul court will this week begin trials for Yang Hyun-suk, former CEO of K-pop powerhouse YG Entertainment, on charges of attempting to cover up a drug scandal involving a singer-rapper, judicial officials said Sunday.

According to the officials, the Seoul Central District Court is to hold its first hearing Friday for Yang, who was indicted last month for having threatened and coerced an informant who testified to police about drug suspicions surrounding B.I, the former songwriting leader of YG's boy band iKON, in August 2016.

As the court usually listens to the opinions of both the prosecution and defense lawyers in the first hearing, Yang is not expected to be present.

Yang was charged with intimidating the informant to thwart police investigations into the former iKON member's suspected drug offense.

Yang is also suspected of conspiring with another entertainment agency to send the informant abroad in 2016, but the investigation into the matter has been suspended as the agency's head is currently on the run overseas.

B.I, whose legal name is Kim Han-bin, has also been indicted on charges of purchasing illegal drugs, including marijuana and LSD pills, through an acquaintance from April to May in 2016 and using some of them. His first hearing is slated for Aug. 27 at the same Seoul court.

Yang was sentenced to a fine of 15 million won ($13,500) last November on charges of gambling at casinos in Las Vegas between 2015 and 2019. Yang stepped down as the CEO and the chief producer of YG Entertainment in June 2019 over drug allegations against B.I. (Yonhap)
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