Private equity fund linked to South Korea justice minister under probe

Sept. 16 (UPI) — South Korean prosecutors are investigating a private equity fund tied to the family of newly appointed Justice Minister Cho Kuk, following the arrest of a Cho relative who is suspected of operating the fund.

Cho’s spouse, Chung Kyung-shim, a professor at Dongyang University, is at the center of investigations, local television network SBS reported Monday.

Income and asset disclosures from 2017 Cho Kuk submitted when he was senior secretary to President Moon Jae-in for civil affairs indicate Chung owned about $675,000 in bonds, or money she loaned to a third party, according to the report.

Of the total amount, Chung had “loaned” about $250,000 to her younger brother, in February 2017. The money trail from the Cho household to the arrested relative also includes investments from Chung’s younger brother.

The suspect under custody, also with the surname Cho, received a total of $420,000 from Chung and her brother. The defendant used the funds to purchase 250 shares of stock for Co-Link Private Equity.

In a separate transaction, about $420,000 out of $675,000 in bonds was remitted to the wife of the suspect in 2015-16. The large sum of money was sent to the suspect before Co-Link was established in February 2016.

Cho’s nephew is also being accused of manipulating stock prices while operating Co-Link.

The suspect was arrested at Incheon International Airport on Saturday on a preliminary warrant, after he kept a low profile during an overseas trip that lasted for about a month, according to Yonhap.

South Korean prosecutors have charged him with embezzlement, breach of trust, illicit transactions, false disclosure and incitement of tampering with evidence, according to the report.

Chung is suspected of having forged a certificate for her daughter, Cho Min, in order to help her gain admission to medical school, according to The Korea Herald.