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SEWOL DISASTER: Fugitive ferry owner's wife arrested

Publication Date : 21-06-2014


Police and prosecutors said Saturday they have arrested the wife of the fugitive owner of the sunken ferry Sewol on charges of embezzling funds from a church and handing them over to her family.

The 72-year-old Kwon Yun-ja was arrested earlier in the day inside an apartment in Bundang, Gyeonggi Province, the joint investigative team said, adding her husband, Yoo Byung-eun, was not at the site of capture

She allegedly pocketed an unidentified amount of money allotted for missionary work of the Evangelical Baptist Church back in August 2009 and handed them over to her husband and her eldest son, Dae-kyun, according to the team.

The elder Yoo is a founding member of the religious sect and still remains influential within the group

Her arrest is part of an ongoing extensive manhunt for Yoo, who is believed to own Chonghaejin Marine Co., the operator of the ill-fated ferry, and his son, with authorities offering 500 million won (US$489,000) and 100 million wonm($97,984), respectively, in bounty for information leading to the capture of the elder Yoo and his son.

"We will look into how much money she embezzled and what roles she played in the escape of her husband and son, as well as whether she is aware of their whereabouts," a prosecutor said.

The ship Sewol sank off the country's southwestern coast on April 16. Of the 476 people presumed to had been on board, more than 300 have been confirmed dead or missing.

Investigators suspect that corruption by the owner family resulted in lax safety practices, such as cargo overloading, and created conditions that ultimately led to the tragedy.


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