September 17, 2020 12:04
Ruling Minjoo Party lawmaker Yoon Mee-hyang, the former head of a charity supporting victims of wartime sex slavery, was indicted Monday on charges of embezzlement, breach of trust and fraud.
Yoon voiced "regret" at the investigation, but her arraignment documents list even more shocking offenses than those made public by a nonagenarian victim earlier this year.
The Chosun Ilbo has learned that Yoon and a high-ranking official at the Korean Council for Justice and Remembrance for the Issues of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan forged the signature of a staffer who worked there briefly in 2008 to obtain a government grant in January of 2013 through the War and Women's Human Rights Museum in Seoul.
For the museum to register as such, it requires at least one curator. Yoon and her accomplice knew that the employee had a curator's license, so they submitted the application for registration with the forged signature.
Yoon allegedly cheated on applications in the name of the museum for grants from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and Seoul Metropolitan Government. The museum received W302.3 million in grants until 2020 (US$1=W1,175).
Prosecutors charged Yoon with fraud and "deceiving the public."
Yoon in a statement Monday claimed she "submitted necessary documents and obtained the grants by fulfilling the requirements" but she failed to produce any corroborating evidence. She vowed to prove her innocence in court.
Yoon is also charged with embezzling more than W100 million from the charity's coffers. She denies the charges even though donations were sent to her personal bank account and she withdrew money from it 217 times to shop and pay for transportation costs and meals.
There were also transfers of money from the charity's account to her own bank account for private use. She is also accused of extracting donations by preying on a nonagenarian victim who has dementia.
The charges first came to light in May, when a 92-year-old former sex slave, Lee Yong-soo, demanded a criminal investigation saying she could no longer remain silent about Yoon's abuses.
Minjoo Party leader Lee Nak-yon launched an internal ethics body probing wrongdoings on Wednesday that decided to suspend Yoon's positions within the party.
Meanwhile, the new ethics body will also probe lawmaker Lee Sang-jik, the founder of budget carrier Eastar Jet, which owes staff W25 billion in back wages and is accused of evading responsibility for the ailing carrier with drastic layoff of around 600 workers. It will also investigate lawmaker Kim Hong-gul, who is under suspicion of under-reporting his wealth.
The party plans to take punitive measures against the two lawmakers should the probe reveal wrongdoings.
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