CEO claims gov’t aided cosmetic surgery clinic

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CEO claims gov’t aided cosmetic surgery clinic

A CEO in the local medical supplies industry accused government authorities of supporting a cosmetic surgery clinic that was allegedly frequented by Choi Soon-sil during an ongoing patent dispute with his company.

Lee Dong-su, who heads a firm that produces and sells medical equipment, claimed Wednesday that he had been pressured by the Blue House, National Tax Service, prosecution and police since 2014, when the owner of Kim Young Jae Plastic Surgery in Gangnam District, southern Seoul, sued him for patent infringement.

Lee said he was summoned for questioning several times by police even after the Korean Intellectual Property Office handed down a ruling that he had not violated any patents held by the clinic. Lee came forward with the statement one day after local broadcaster JTBC reported that the presidential office had helped the clinic expand its business overseas - and when its attempt to help the clinic was impeded, it went after a consulting firm that graded the clinic as unsuitable for business expansion.

JTBC, an affiliate of the Korea JoongAng Daily, found that Choi and her daughter were on the clinic’s patient register list. The report follows growing rumors that President Park Geun-hye was a frequent visitor to the clinic and that she was there receiving treatment on the day of the Sewol ferry sinking on April 16, 2014, which led to the deaths of 304 people.

Lee’s case dates back to 2014 when Kim Young-jae, 56, owner of the clinic, and his brother-in-law, who heads a medical supplies company, jointly sued him for infringing on their patent license for a type of string used in facelift surgeries. Although the suit was made with the Korean Intellectual Property Office, customs officers were the first to raid Lee’s office in Seoul, claiming they had the right to get involved because he had exported his string products overseas, Lee said.

Months later, Lee was summoned by the prosecution on allegations of shipping his goods abroad. His office was later raided for the second time by the National Tax Service. Officials with the National Tax Service claimed they were performing a tax audit.

In September 2015, Lee was summoned by police for the same patent infringement allegation, even after he was ruled innocent. Lee has been indicted by prosecutors and is currently waiting his first trial, but says he does not know when it will start.

The plaintiff, Kim’s brother-in-law, has been lying low ever since the Choi-gate scandal began to snowball last month.

BY SUNG HWA-SUN, CHAE YOON-KYUNG [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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