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Prosecutors indict Cho Kuk’s younger brother

Nov 19,2019
Prosecutors on Monday indicted the younger brother of scandal-plagued former Justice Minister Cho Kuk on several charges related to his management of a private school foundation run by the Cho family.

The younger Cho, 52, became the third person in the family to be indicted by prosecutors in a massive, ongoing probe surrounding the former justice minister. A first cousin once removed was Cho’s first relative to be indicted, followed by his wife, Chung Kyung-sim, who is an English professor at Dongyang University in Yeongju, North Gyeongsang.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office indicted the younger Cho with detention on suspicions of receiving bribes from teachers at Ungdong Middle School in Changwon, South Gyeongsang, while serving as the general secretary of the Ungdong School Foundation; attempting to destroy evidence of his alleged misdeeds at the school foundation when prosecutors launched a probe into the accusations; giving cash to his accomplices as prosecutors zeroed in, and demanding that they flee Korea; deliberately arranging a lawsuit against the Ungdong School Foundation as a way to embezzle the foundation’s funds; and faking a divorce from his wife to avoid the state-backed Korea Asset Management Corporation’s foreclosure of the school foundation for its unpaid debts.

The suspect is known to be denying most of the charges except those related to the bribes he received from teachers.

The current chair of the Ungdong School Foundation’s board of directors is Cho’s 81-year-old mother. Prosecutors believe the younger Cho stole the test and answer sheets used in the teachers’ employment process from his mother’s house. She has yet to be summoned for questioning, and prosecutors remain unsure about whether she was aware of her younger son’s alleged transgressions.

Internal documents from the school foundation showed Dongyang University, where Cho’s wife works, was one of the organizations which produced the questions, but prosecutors have yet to figure out whether Cho’s wife was aware or involved with the bribery.

Cho’s younger brother allegedly received 180 million won ($154,600) from two people who applied for the social studies teaching position at Ungdong Middle School between 2016 and 2017, and in return, handed them the question and answer sheets.

As prosecutors launched a probe into Cho’s family in late August, the suspect allegedly tried to destroy all the evidence related to suspicions surrounding him and gave 3.5 million won to the brokers who are said to have helped him with the employment fraud and ordered them to leave the country.

Prosecutors believe Cho’s brother stashed away a total of 147 million won in bribes, minus the amount he gave to the brokers.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]


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