4-year jail term sought for Sewol owner’s son

October 8, 2014
Yoo Dae-gyun

Yoo Dae-gyun

By Kim Rahn

Prosecutors called for a four-year jail term for Yoo Dae-gyun, the eldest son of the late Yoo Byung-eun, the de facto owner of Chonghaejin Marine that operated the sunken ferry Sewol, Wednesday.

The prosecution asked Incheon District Court to hand down the prison term for Yoo on charges of embezzling more than 7 billion won in company money and breach of trust.

Yoo was arrested in July after more than two months in hiding following the ferry incident in April that killed more than 300 passengers.

When the judge asked him during the hearing if he had anything to say, Yoo said, “I’m sorry to everybody.”

His lawyer said Yoo felt responsible for the accident and sorry for the victims, adding that the incident broke up his family. His father was found dead, while his mother and uncles were arrested. Other family members are in hiding.

Yoo is accused of taking 7.3 billion won from seven companies owned by the family, including Chonghaejin, in salary and fees for using a trademark held by him from May 2002 to last December. He acquired trademark rights for the name of the Sewol’s sister ferry, Ohamana, and Chonghaejin paid 3.5 billion won to him for the name use.

The court will make a ruling for him on Nov. 5.

Prosecutors also sought suspended jail terms for three people for helping Yoo hide, including Park Soo-kyung.

For eight other aides to the late senior Yoo, the prosecution requested prison terms of between one and four-and-a-half years. Those people, heads of the companies set up by the Yoo family, were indicted with or without physical detention on charges of embezzlement or breach of trust.

The prosecution sought one year in prison for actress Jeon Yang-ja who ran a home shopping company. She is accused of giving 350 million won in company funds to an agricultural group that allegedly managed the Yoo family’s fortune, as well as embezzling 89 million won and giving it to another Yoo family firm.

The other seven people were charged with breach of trust by giving 3 to 26 billion won in company funds to the family under the name of fees for consulting, advisory services or trademark use. The total amount reached 96 billion won.

Meanwhile, the prosecution grilled Kim Hye-kyung, another confidant of the late Yoo, for the second consecutive day. She was deported from the U.S. and arrested upon arrival in Korea, Tuesday.

The CEO of Korea Pharmaceuticals allegedly managed the senior Yoo’s slush fund and hidden assets worth 22.4 billion won under false names.

Kim is accused of embezzlement and breach of trust, as she bought the senior Yoo’s photo works, which experts did not find valuable, at high prices with company money.

She also allegedly bought real estate under her or her family members’ names by embezzling funds of the Evangelical Baptist Church, or so-called Salvation Sect, which the senior Yoo led.