July 01, 2020 10:35
Fly-by-night Justice Minister Cho Kuk's nephew, who is at the center of allegations of illicit dealings through a hedge fund owned by the family, was sentenced to four years in prison for embezzlement on Tuesday.
Cho Beom-dong was also fined W50 million (US$1=W1,204). It was the first prison sentence for a suspect involved in the scandal that brought down Cho Kuk, who along with his family stands accused of nepotism and shady financial dealings.
The court found Cho Beom-dong guilty of manipulating stock prices and embezzling some W8.9 billion from companies invested in by the hedge fund, and concealing and destroying documents that might work against the Cho family.
The fund invested most of the money from the Cho family in a lamppost switch manufacturer two months after Cho Kuk became the senior presidential secretary for civil affairs in 2017. The company's stock price soared when it landed massive orders from government offices.
The court found that Cho Kuk's wife Chung Kyung-shim "did not invest but merely lent money" to the defendant who paid interest to her. It also said she had no role in the embezzlement, rejecting the prosecution's argument that she was an accomplice.
Separately, Chung has been charged with forging documents and other violations to pad her daughter's application to medical school.
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