Korean Air raided by prosecutors

- REUTERS, SEOUL

Jun 1, 2018-

South Korean prosecutors raided the headquarters of Korean Air Lines Co Ltd on Thursday over suspected tax evasion, embezzlement and breach of trust by members of its founding family, in what has become the broadest-ever chaebol probe.

The investigation is the latest involving the family-controlled conglomerate, or chaebol, after a tantrum in April by the chairman’s youngest daughter re-ignited public resentment toward the perceived unchecked behaviour of chaebols’ powerful family-owners. Cho Hyun-min’s alleged throwing of a drink at a business meeting attendee sparked protests which, coupled with a liberal government willing to pursue wrongdoing among the elite, has led to an unprecedented number of family members being

subject to multiple investigated simultaneously, analysts said. Cho Hyun-min is the younger sister of Heather Cho.

The elder Cho was jailed in 2014 for demanding a Korean Air Lines plane return to its gate at a New York airport, after losing her temper over the way she was served nuts in a first class cabin.Meanwhile separately on Thursday, police sought an arrest warrant for matriarch Lee Myung-hee on assault charges.Park Sang-in, an economics professor at Seoul National University, said workers at Korean Air Lines coming forward against the owner-family has particularly fuelled the probes. “The family appears to have a lot of issues, as one investigation is leading to another, supported by testimonies from workers,” Park said.

Korean Air Lines workers this month held rallies in Seoul calling for Chairman Cho Yang-ho to step down. Days later, authorities considered cancelling the licence of budget airline Jin Air Co Ltd because Cho’s younger daughter had been a board member despite being a US national—a potential regulatory breach. Chairman Cho subsequently stepped down as Jin Air’s co-chief executive. “Unless the chairman himself is found guilty of any severe financial crime, for instance, the ongoing probes will have little impact on the family’s control,” Park said.

Published: 01-06-2018 08:23

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