The eldest daughter of Yoo Byung-eon, the de facto owner of ferry operator Chonghaejin Marine, was arrested in France on Tuesday.
Prosecutors here had canceled the passport of Yoo Sum-na (48) and asked Interpol to put her on their most-wanted list. She is the first member of Yoo's family to be arrested and her capture is expected to deal a psychological blow to her fugitive father and brothers Dae-gyun (44) and Hyuk-ki (42), who are also on the run.
Yoo Sum-na faces embezzlement or breach-of-trust charges for misappropriating W8 billion from her father's sprawling network of businesses. She was paid W80 million a month in consulting fees for a design studio she runs (US$1=W1,024).
She left Korea shortly after the ferry disaster on April 16 and has been hiding in a luxury apartment in Paris.
Prosecutors earlier summoned Yoo Sum-na, Hyuk-ki and second daughter Sang-na, who are overseas, three times so far to appear for questioning, but they have refused to comply.
French authorities will now process Yoo Sum-na for extradition to Korea, based on an extradition treaty with France which went into effect in 2008. But it is hard to tell exactly when she will be returned to Korea.
First, a French court could examine the charges from the Justice Ministry and detain her for up to 40 days, or she can be released on bail. If the French court recognizes the charges, a decision will be made to extradite her to Korea by the French justice minister. But Yoo could appeal, which would delay her return to Korea.
A Justice Ministry official said, "It could take anywhere from a few months to more than a year" for her to return to Korea. "It could take even longer if she stalls by claiming religious persecution" given that her father also runs a cult.