Ferry Owner Disciple Wanted for Prosecution

D-Bo, Oct. 10, 2014, 9:55 a.m.

Prosecutors on Thursday sought an arrest warrant for Kim Hye-kyung, a close disciple of ferry owner Yoo Byung-eon believed to have managed his slush fund.  Kim (52) has been charged with embezzling W2.1 billion from Yoo's businesses and dodging around W500 million in taxes (US$1=W1,075).

According to prosecutors, she took money from Yoo's businesses to buy real estate and register it in her own and her relatives' names, as well as causing significant losses for her company by buying the ferry owner's photographs at exorbitant prices.  She is also accused of dodging taxes by doctoring the company's financial records.

Kim, who started working for Yoo as a secretary in her 20s, is nominally the biggest shareholder and CEO of an affiliate of ferry operator Chonghaejin Marine that manufactures health supplements. She is the only person other than Yoo or his family to register dozens of trademarks owned by the company in her own name.

Prosecutors have provisionally impounded around W10.4 billion worth of real estate registered in Kim's and her relatives' names as well as W1.2 billion worth of shares in companies owned by the dead ferry owner. 

They have also identified more real estate in Gangneung and Pyeongtaek registered in Kim's name that they believe she held by proxy for Yoo. Kim claims those properties are hers.

Kim went to the U.S. on March 27, 20 days before the ferry accident. Prosecutors summoned her three times since the ferry disaster, but she ignored them and remained in the U.S. until she was arrested and deported back to Korea.


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