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Fugitive Sewol owner's brother-in-law to stand trial

2014/06/24 19:28

INCHEON, June 24 (Yonhap) -- The brother-in-law of the fugitive owner of the sunken ferry Sewol was indicted Tuesday on charges of embezzlement, prosecutors said.

The indictment is part of the prosecution's expanded investigation into corruption allegations surrounding Yoo Byung-eun, the 73-year-old fugitive billionaire who founded the predecessor of Chonghaejin Marine Co., the operator of the ill-fated ferry, and his family.

Prosecutors suspect that Yoo -- a religious figure and ex-convict -- actually owns the operator and that corruption by his family resulted in lax safety practices, such as cargo overloading, which ultimately led to the tragedy that left more than 300 people dead or missing.

Authorities have been offering 500 million won (US$489,000) as a reward for information leading to the owner's capture.

According to Incheon District Prosecutors' Office, Kwon Oh-kyun, the elder brother of Yoo's wife, allegedly funneled funds of nearly 30 billion won into his company after taking out loans with a religious group's assets as collateral.

As well as being an influential member of the Evangelical Baptist Church, Kwon acts as the chief of Trigon Korea, a core affiliate of Chonghaejin Marine, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors also said they have sought an arrest warrant for the younger brother of Yoo Byung-uen on charges of embezzlement.

Yoo Byung-ho is suspected to have funneled company funds worth 3 billion won to his elder brother's family when he was working as an auditor of one of the family's sprawling businesses, according to prosecutors.

The younger Yoo, 62, was nabbed inside his home in Daegu, a city about 300 kilometers south of Seoul, on Sunday.

khj@yna.co.kr

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