Mistress of SK chairman probed over property deal

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Mistress of SK chairman probed over property deal


The high-profile mistress of SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won is being investigated by financial authorities on charges of violating the foreign exchange law.

The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) on Wednesday told the JoongAng Ilbo that the 41-year-old mistress of SK Chairman Chey and an official in charge of overseas branches of the telecom and energy conglomerate were summoned for questioning about a real estate transaction that took place five years ago.

According to the FSS, the mistress, a U.S. citizen identified by the family name Kim, purchased a 243 square-meter (2,615 square-foot) unit in the SK Apelbaum apartment complex in the posh neighborhood of Banpo in Seocho District, south of Han River for 1.55 billion won ($1.28 million) in 2008.

She allegedly failed to report the purchase, as required for a foreign citizen.

Two years later she allegedly sold the apartment to Singapore-based Bergaya International for 2.4 billion won, making a healthy profit. Yet again, she allegedly failed to report the sale to the government.

Bergaya International is on overseas affiliate of SK Group created just a month before the sale took place, raising suspicion that the company was created by Chey to help feather the nest of his mistress.

Bergaya International allegedly failed to report the purchase to the government, the FSS said.

Under current law, non-residential foreigners including Koreans with foreign passports living abroad must report real estate purchases in Korea and file related documents to the Bank of Korea through commercial banks.

The same requirement applies to offshore companies.

If transactions are not reported a fine of 2 percent of the value of the purchase can be applied. The ceiling on such fines, however, is 50 million won.

But if either Kim or the Singapore-based company is found to have evaded taxes, the investigation can be turned over to the prosecutor. Fines for unpaid tax can be twice the amount of the tax evaded and jail terms of two years are also possible.

“Currently we are only investigating the failure to report the transaction as per the foreign exchange law,” said an FSS official, who requested anonymity. “We will decide whether we will expand the investigation after we receive additional information explaining the actions of both Kim and SK.”

On Dec. 29, SK Group Chairman Chey made a surprise announcement when he wrote a public letter that was published into a local daily that he is in an extramarital relationship and has a child with the unnamed woman, who was also said to be a divorcee.


BY LEE TAE-KYUNG, LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]

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