CJ Chairman Lee’s home raided by prosecutors

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CJ Chairman Lee’s home raided by prosecutors

Prosecutors yesterday raided the home of CJ Group Chairman Lee Jay-hyun as a part of their hunt for alleged overseas slush funds, hidden assets and tax evasion by the owner of Korea’s 14th-largest conglomerate.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office dispatched a group of prosecutors and investigators to Lee’s residence in Jangchung-dong, central Seoul, around 2 p.m. and raided it. The prosecution seized internal documents of the food and entertainment giant and computer files.

After the surprise search and seizure at Lee’s home, speculation quickly grew that the prosecution was taking its final steps to prosecute Lee as the mastermind of the CJ slush fund scandal. The tycoon was barred from leaving the country last week.

The conglomerate had two financial affairs teams and one was dedicated to managing the Lee family’s wealth, reporting directly to Lee, prosecution sources told the JoongAng Ilbo.

The special investigation team on the case raided CJ’s headquarters, CJ CheilJedang, CJ Management Research Institute as well as residences of five or six executives on May 21.

The prosecutors also raided the National Tax Service to secure data on the tax payments and real estate ownership of the CJ family. Normally, they would request cooperation from the National Tax Service, but in this case they decided to raid its files.

The prosecution suspects the tycoon used various techniques to sidestep gift taxes to bequeath his wealth to his two children.

The prosecution said yesterday it raided the headquarters of Shinhan Bank on Tuesday to confiscate records of the bank’s business with CJ Group’s Japan corporation.

According to the sources, Shinhan Bank’s Tokyo branch loaned 24 billion won ($21 million) to the conglomerate’s Japan corporation, PAN Japan, and the investigators seized records on the deal.

The prosecution said it is looking into the details of the loan’s use and the source of the money that CJ later used to repay a part of the loan.

Lee was accused of having purchased a 2.1 billion yen ($20.63 million) piece of real estate in the luxurious Tokyo neighborhood of Akasaka under an assumed name with covert overseas funds, sources from the prosecution told the JoongAng Ilbo last week.

By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]
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