Artworks seized in raid on Daeju

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Artworks seized in raid on Daeju

The prosecution’s probe into the massive amounts of hidden wealth and assets owned by Daeju Group’s former chairman, Huh Jae-ho, is starting to bear fruit. Reports yesterday indicated that a raid on the homes of Huh’s daughter last Friday turned up 115 pieces of art, which were then confiscated by the authorities.

The high-end items were seized from two apartments where Huh has been known to live with his immediate family. Prosecutors have requested appraisals be made on the artworks.

“When investigations prove that the artworks are linked to Huh, they will be sold immediately by public auction, with the profits taken by the state in the form of taxes and fines,” said Lee Du-shik, a prosecutor at the Gwangju District Prosecutors’ Office.

The works are said to be by renowned artists, some of which sell for hundreds of millions of won.

Huh, 71, fled to New Zealand after failing to pay 63.4 billion won ($59.4 million), which includes 25.4 billion won in fines, 14.7 billion won in national taxes, 2.4 billion won in local taxes and 23.3 billion won in debt.

The Gwangju District Prosecutors’ Office launched an investigation on the chaebol’s concealed assets on Feb. 26, with a focus on whether Huh stashed cash in overseas tax havens.

Huh, who was placed on Interpol’s wanted list in 2012, emigrated to New Zealand in January 2012 and never returned to Korea. Prosecutors are currently looking into whether his permanent residency is legal in order to verify whether they can demand his deportation from the New Zealand government.

Local news outlets reported that Huh is enjoying a life of luxury abroad, frequently visiting casinos since fleeing Korea.

In December 2011, the Supreme Court sentenced him to two years in prison with four years of probation for embezzlement and tax evasion.

The Gwangju-based Daeju Group began in the construction business and then spread into shipbuilding, finance and cement. Its housing construction business grew rapidly until the global financial crisis, when unsold apartments began to pile up, making the company go bankrupt in October 2010.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN, CHOI KYUNG-HO [selee@joongang.co.kr]


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