Jail term for Sewol owner’s son reduced to two years

May 22, 2015
Yoo Dae-gyun

Yoo Dae-gyun

By Lee Kyung-min

An appeals court Friday reduced the jail term for Yoo Dae-gyun, the eldest son of the late Sewol ferry owner Yoo Byung-eun, to two years.

He was sentenced to three years by a district court in November, after being convicted of embezzlement and breach of trust.

The Seoul High Court upheld the convictions, but reduced the jail term.

“The financial damage he incurred on companies is being recovered,” the court said. “Also, he deposited 1.3 billion won (US$1.2 million) with the court and has no prior offences.”

The court said he practically extorted firms owned by his father using his status as the son of the company owner.

Yoo was indicted in August for embezzling 7.3 billion won (US$6.7 million) from seven of its subsidiaries after charging them to pay trademark fees.

“The gains he made were comparable to merely picking fruit from a tree, rather than putting hours of effort to growing the tree,” the court said.

Yoo’s family members and key officials of the company have been indicted on a series of charges, including breach of trust, since the disaster.

The indictments followed allegations that their mismanagement of the company resulted in safety negligence and the sinking of the ferry that claimed 304 lives ― many of them students ― in April last year.

Earlier, the prosecution demanded four years’ imprisonment as well as that he returns 7.3 billion won of unduly gained profit.

During previous hearings, a lawyer representing Yoo had requested leniency from the court, saying the financial damage Yoo incurred is being recovered.

Indeed, the government obtained some 3.5 billion won after Yoo’s house in Cheongdam-dong in southern Seoul was auctioned off.

The money will be spent compensating the Sewol victims.

Land worth 4.3 billion won owned by his younger brother, Yoo Hyuk-ki, was put up for auction Friday.

Besides Yoo, four other key officials of the company’s subsidiaries received penalties ranging from suspended sentences to prison terms of up to three years.