Prosectuors Will Not Indict Dead Ferry Owner

D-bo, Aug. 13, 2014, 11:42 a.m.

Prosecutors said Tuesday that they have decided not to indict the late shipping tycoon accused of a host of crimes that they believe contributed to April's ferry disaster.

Yoo Byung-eun, a 73-year-old billionaire whose family owns Sewol operator Chonghaejin Marine Co., faced various corruption charges, including embezzlement, breach of trust and tax evasion, prosecutors said.

Releasing an interim outcome of their 110-day-long probe, investigators at the Incheon District Prosecutors' Office in the western port city of Incheon said that they have concluded that there is no legal basis to indict Yoo.

"We made the decision that there is no arraignment right as it is confirmed that Yoo had died," said an investigator close to the investigation.

The badly decomposed body of Yoo, who was the target of a massive manhunt over alleged corruption since the ferry sank off the country's southwestern coast in mid-April, was found in the southern part of the country on June 12.

Prosecutors allege that not only had Yoo embezzled 129.1 billion won (US$125 million) from Chonghaejin Marine and evaded 15.9 billion won worth of gift taxes, but also received 15 million won per month from the ferry operator as consulting fees.

The prosecution office said it has also indicted Yoo Dae-kyun, Yoo's eldest son, on charges of misappropriating about 7.3 billion won from the ferry operator and its six other affiliates.

Prosecutors further allege that the younger Yoo, who was apprehended on July 25, pocketed 3.5 billion won from Chonghaejin Marine.

A total of 34 people, including Yoo's family members and closest aides, have been indicted for various charges in connection with the ferry disaster, prosecutors said.

The Sewol ferry capsized off southwestern South Korea on April 16 after making a sharp turn. So far, 294 people, mostly high school students, have been found dead, with 10 missing and presumed dead.

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