July 03, 2018 12:47
Prosecutors on Monday swooped on their main prey in the escalating Korean Air scandal by applying for an arrest warrant for chairman Cho Yang-ho.
Cho is to stand trial in the Seoul Southern District Court for fraud, embezzlement, breach of trust and tax evasion, with a fresh charge of running a large pharmacy under a borrowed name without a sales license and pocketing huge profits.
The 69-year-old is accused of paying commissions to a company owned by his daughter Hyun-min for the supply of luxury goods to Korean Air, and using company money to pay the legal fees of his other daughter, Cho Hyun-ah, when she was on trial over the 2014 "nut rage" scandal.
He is also accused of failing to report assets he inherited from his father to avoid paying inheritance tax. Cho denied the charges during questioning by prosecutors.
Prosecutors started investigating Cho in April after tax authorities accused him of evading around W50 billion in inheritance taxes (US$1=W1,120). But the statute of limitations has run out on that charge. Cho was previously jailed for tax evasion in 1999 but swiftly freed by a presidential pardon.
Prosecutors have now sought four separate arrest warrants for Cho and his family, but three were rejected.
Cho Hyun-min faces assault charges for throwing water at an ad company staffer in one of what witnesses say were her many uncontrollable tantrums, but a judge refused to authorize her arrest.
Prosecutors also sought two arrest warrants for Cho's wife, Lee Myung-hee (69), on charges of assaulting her chauffeur, maid and security guard, but she remains at large under a travel ban. She is also accused of running a luxury-goods smuggling racket with her two daughters with the collusion of the airline and tame customs officials.
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