Kumho brothers at each other again

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Kumho brothers at each other again


The Chuseok holidays, in which Koreans celebrate the harvest season with family and hometown friends, is just around the corner. But it’s not going to be a happy holiday for the family behind the Kumho chaebol.

Kumho Petrochemical Group said yesterday that Chairman Park Chan-koo has asked local prosecutors to investigate his older brother and the chairman of Kumho Asiana Group, Park Sam-koo, for breach of trust.

Park Sam-koo is the third son of the late Kumho Group founder Park In-cheon, while Park Chan-koo is his fourth.

According to Kumho Petrochemical, Park Chan-koo reported his older brother to the Seoul Central District Public Prosecutors’ Office last month and law authorities have begun an investigation.

According to the group, Park Chan-koo has asked prosecutors to investigate three Kumho Asiana Group executives including Sam-koo for breaches of trust that allegedly cost the group more than 420 billion won ($412 million).

Kumho Petrochemical Group claims that Park Sam-koo ordered Kumho Asiana Group affiliates in 2009 to purchase 427 billion won worth of commercial paper (CP) issued by Kumho Industrial and Kumho Tire even after the companies filed for debt workout programs.

According to the petrochemical group, the two companies filed for debt workout programs on Dec. 30, 2009, and issued commercial paper on that day and the next. Some 200 private investors who bought those bonds through Kumho Investment Bank (now Woori Investment Bank) also lost money.

After Kumho Industrial and Kumho Tire filed for the debt workouts, their CP credit ratings plunged to junk levels.

“This is a clear breach of trust,” Kumho Petrochemical Group said in a statement.

Kumho Asiana Group said Chairman Park Sam-koo was out of the management when the decision was made and that the affiliates buying the CP from two companies was actually ordered by creditors in a bid to prevent their bankruptcy.

Relations between the two brothers began to break down since 2006 following Kumho Asiana Group’s acquisition of Daewoo Engineering and Construction.

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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