October 04, 2019 11:10
Justice Minister Cho Kuk's wife Chung Kyung-shim appeared for questioning by prosecutors on Thursday morning, 37 days after prosecutors launched an investigation into a welter of corruption allegations against Cho's family.
But prosecutors smuggled Chung in by the back entrance to spare her exposure to the assembled press in the lobby, just a day after Cho and President Moon Jae-in laid out prosecution reforms and called for investigative procedures that "respect human rights."
After eight hours Chung, who is among other things accused of forging documents to finagle her daughter's admission to prestigious schools, was let go. Prosecutors said she asked for the interview to be terminated because she was feeling unwell.
She will be questioned again soon, prosecutors promised.
Chung faces charges of forging a citation from the head of Dongyang University to bolster her daughter's chances of gaining admission to a prestigious university as well as meddling in the operation of a private equity fund in which she invested.
Prosecutors said they have testimony from the couple's financial manager that Chung told her husband in a phone call on Sept. 6 she would "take all the blame" for the suspicions surrounding the university citation.
Prosecutors have concluded that a hedge fund at the heart of allegations of dubious financial dealings was run by Cho's distant cousin, who embezzled W7.2 billion and attempted to manipulate stock prices (US$1=W1,206). They view Chung as an accomplice and plan to indict her after wrapping up the investigation.
Cho is also a suspect in the investigation, which means prosecutors could end up grilling their own boss.
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