State prosecutors seek arrest warrant for Hanjin group chief

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2018-07-02 14:56 Updated : 2018-07-02 14:56
글씨작게 글씨크게

[Yonhap Photo]

​SEOUL --​ South Korean state prosecutors sought a court-issued warrant Monday to arrest Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Yang-ho, who controls Korean Air, four days after he was questioned on multiple charges that included embezzlement and breach of trust.

Cho, 69, is suspected of awarding improper contracts to companies controlled by his family, using company money to pay attorney fees for him and his family and using a borrowed name to run a pharmacy illegally. He allegedly did not report his overseas bank accounts, although their total balance exceeded one billion won ($897,666).

Originally, the chairman was questioned for evading an inheritance tax, but prosecutors promised to secure concrete evidence through a corroborative investigation.

Hanjin has seen its image plunging due to a scandal involving the chairman's youngest daughter, Cho Hyun-min, who allegedly threw a glass cup and sprayed plum juice during a business meeting with advertising agency officials on March 16. She told investigators that she lost her temper because the advertising company did not properly answer her questions.

Lee Myung-hee, the chairman's wife, was questioned on charges of illegally hiring Filipino housekeepers without proper visas. She also faces charges of verbally and physically assaulting company housekeepers and others.

Earlier, police accused Lee of hurling a pair of pruning shears at a security guard in his house for failing to take care of the house door properly, kicking a chauffeur for a mistake in the street, beating a gardener and slapping a construction worker.

Cho Hyun-ah was questioned by customs officials for bringing in personal goods purchased overseas without paying taxes. She was once arrested in 2014 for an onboard tantrum when served macadamia nuts in a bag rather than a bowl. She was imprisoned for a year for violating aviation law but she was released in May 2015 after an appeals court suspended her sentence.

Despite strong public demands for punishment, no family members have been arrested yet as court judges were reluctant to issue arrest warrants, citing no possibility of running away or destroying evidence.