Korean Air Family Skirt Jail in Smuggling Racket

  • By Kwon Sang-eun, Kim Eun-jeong

    June 14, 2019 11:28

    Lee Myung-hee, the widow of ousted Korean Air chief Cho Yang-ho was given a one-year suspended jail sentence and slapped with a W7 million fine and a W37 million confiscation order Thursday for smuggling in luxury goods.

    The Incheon District Court also sentenced her daughter Cho Hyun-ah, globally notorious for the 2014 "nut rage" scandal, to a suspended jail term on the same charge, a W4.8 million fine plus a W63 million confiscation order.

    Mother and daughter were also ordered to perform 80 hours of community service.

    Two Korean Air staffers implicated in the smuggling racket were also given suspended sentences, but the airline as a whole was cleared of involvement.

    Lee Myung-hee (left), the widow of Korean Air chief Cho Yang-ho, and her daughter Cho Hyun-ah leave the Incheon District Court on Thursday. /Yonhap

    Lee was found guilty of smuggling in a hoard worth W37 million of ceramics, decorative accessories and other luxury goods on no fewer than 46 occasions with the collusion of airline staff and customs officials. Cho and the two employees were found guilty of smuggling in W89 million worth of clothes, cosmetics and kitchen products on a whopping 202 occasions.

    But Judge Oh Chang-hoon suspended the jail sentences even though the offenses were numerous and committed over a long period because most of the smuggled goods were "common household products."

    He also took into account that the defendants expressed remorse.

    In another trial the same day, prosecutors sought a W30 million fine for Lee for illegally employing six maids from the Philippines by disguising them as Korean Air interns. Lee had denied the charge but changed her mind, apologized and took responsibility for failing to check the law. 

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