Prosecutors request arrest warrant for wife of ex-justice minister

October 21, 2019

Prosecutors asked a Seoul court Monday to issue an arrest warrant for the wife of ex-Justice Minister Cho Kuk on 11 charges related to her daughter’s college admission and an investment in a private equity fund (PEF).

The request came about two months since the prosecution started investigating Cho’s family over allegations regarding the forgery of a college presidential citation, a dubious financial investment and academic favors.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office sought an arrest warrant for Chung Kyung-sim, a Dongyang University professor, over charges that include obstruction of business and violation of the capital market law.

Chung’s health was cited as a key factor affecting whether the prosecution could press ahead with the arrest request.

But the prosecution appears to have judged it inevitable that she should be taken into custody.

The 57-year-old Chung is alleged to have been involved in fabricating a college presidential citation related to voluntary activity by her daughter at Dongyang University in Yeongju, 230 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

In early September, Chung was indicted on forgery charges while her husband was attending a parliamentary confirmation hearing.

As for the investment in the PEF, the arrest warrant was sought over allegations of embezzlement and violating the capital market law.

Chung and her two children invested in more than 1 billion won (US$851,281) into the PEF, which was actually owned by a relative of Cho, after Cho was named a senior presidential secretary for civil affairs in May 2017.

The prosecution has been looking into allegations that Chung conspired with the now-arrested relative over the investment.

Also among the charges are allegations she was involved in concealment or forgery of evidence related to the ongoing case.

Whether a local court issues or rejects the warrant will be a critical point for the prosecution’s probe into Cho’s family.

The prosecution, meanwhile, plans to summon Cho’s younger brother who is alleged of having caused financial losses for a school foundation by filing a fraudulent lawsuit against it over construction costs.

The younger Cho, who worked at the foundation, is also suspected of dereliction of duty for allegedly leaking test questions and answers for 210 million won to two people who applied to teaching posts at a middle school run by the foundation.

The prosecution is expected to again push for an arrest warrant following the questioning after an initial attempt was rejected by the court earlier this month.

The Seoul Central District Court rejected the arrest warrant request, saying there is no need to arrest the suspect given that the charges against him are disputable and sufficient evidence has been collected.

Last week, Cho abruptly resigned amid controversy about whether he was suitable for the Cabinet post.

A key architect for President Moon Jae-in’s drive to reform the prosecution, Cho was appointed on Sept. 9 despite objections from opposition parties.

For about two months, protestors staged street rallies for and against his appointment and prosecution reform measures.

Supporters of Cho called for thorough reform of the elite investigative agency and branded the prosecution’s probe into his family a politically charged one.