December 22, 2016 11:55
Independent counsel Park Young-soo has taken out an arrest warrant for the daughter of Choi Soon-sil, the woman at the heart of a massive corruption scandal that has brought down President Park Geun-hye.
Chung Yoo-ra, allegedly the chief beneficiary of huge donations from Samsung and underhand privileges at the prestigious Ewha Womans University, has been lying low in Germany, where her mother is suspected of buying billions of won worth of properties with her ill-gotten gains.
The independent counsel is seeking to get Chung extradited by invalidating her Korean passport after charging her with subverting the admissions process at Ewha.
An Education Ministry audit of the university revealed that the school eliminated two applicants in 2015 who had higher scores than Chung to pave the way for her admission.
Chung repaid Ewha by rarely attending classes but still managed to get passing grades, with a professor completing some of her assignments on her behalf.
She has now been expelled from the university and her high school diploma has also been canceled after it emerged that she barely attended her final year.
An official at the independent counsel's office said, "If we send the arrest warrant to German prosecutors, they will have a court there issue another arrest warrant and capture Chung and send her to Korea."
The independent counsel will also ask German authorities to track Chung's financial transactions and phone calls and freeze her assets. Invalidating Chung's passport would render her an illegal alien in Germany, but that is expected to take about a month. The best-case scenario is that Chung voluntarily returns to Korea.
Earlier, Choi's lawyer Lee Kyung-jae said, "We conveyed our view to Chung that it would be best to obey the government's summons. Chung has yet to respond, but she does not seem to be absolutely against the idea of returning to Korea."
But in a telephone interview with the Chosun Ilbo on Wednesday, Lee said, "I have not spoken on the phone with Chung, but it is regrettable that an arrest warrant was issued without an official summons. She will make the decision whether or not to return to Korea."
Her whereabouts remain a mystery.
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