April 26, 2019 11:36
Police want to investigate a group of Japanese investors who allegedly had sex with prostitutes supplied by Seung-ri of boy band Big Bang in a luxury hotel in Seoul back in 2015.
Seung-ri's shady business partner has admitted pimping on behalf of over half a dozen Japanese investors, but Seung-ri claims he only picked up the hotel tab for a couple of them out of "gratitude" for earlier hospitality in Japan.
The business partner, identified as Yoo and married to actress Park Han-byul, told police he paid for prostitutes who went through the hotel's revolving doors "day and night," according to police.
Police on Thursday said they have now booked 17 women who are suspected of having been paid by Seung-ri and Yoo, and most admitted the charges. But the investors are in Japan and may see no reason to talk to police here. A source said police will "look for proper measures" to investigate them.
Seung-ri continues to deny pimping and claims he was an all-but-silent partner in the nightclub business he ran with Yoo. Police have only been able to establish the paper trail for the W30 million hotel bill of two Japanese investors who stayed here in December 2015, which was paid by Seung-ri with a corporate credit card from his former talent agency.
That does not implicate him in the pimping side, but the bill is so high that it raises suspicions that the agency, YG Entertainment, either cleared the payment for the prostitutes that way or inflated expenses to dodge taxes.
YG Entertainment in a statement Thursday said the disgraced K-pop idol "covered personal expenses that had nothing to do with work." In other words, Seung-ri paid the bill back out of his own pocket.
Lee Young-han, a taxation expert at the University of Seoul, said, "It seems odd for a talent agency to give their stars a credit card for unlimited use and then take payment later if they didn't use it for work-related purposes."
Seung-ri's lawyer told the Chosun Ilbo, "It is true that the hotel bill was paid with the YG corporate card, but that card was part of an advance payment plan the company extends to entertainers to distribute profits." He added the bill "was not paid with company money so there are no problems in terms of taxes."
Police are still trying to pin a charge on Seung-ri for flying a gaggle of prostitutes over to the Philippines for a lavish party he threw in Palawan in December 2017. Police say they have evidence that Seung-ri paid W15 million for the owls-to-Athens operation to a known mamasan here, but the women themselves stick to their story that any sex they had with guests was not transactional.
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