Authorities seek extradition, arrest of Chung Yoo-ra

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Authorities seek extradition, arrest of Chung Yoo-ra

The independent counsel, which is investigating the Park Guen-hye scandal, formally requested assistance from German prosecutors on Friday to apprehend Chung Yoo-ra, 20, presidential confidante Choi Soon-sil’s daughter, and look into the mother’s wealth there.

Chung appears to be hiding in Germany after taking a leave from her Korean school last September, although the independent counsel left open the possibility she may be hiding someplace else.

The latest measure comes a day after the special investigation team put her on the most wanted list upon securing an arrest warrant from a local court. They have yet to find any clues about her whereabouts.

German prosecutors replied they will provide their “full cooperation,” said Lee Kyu-chul, one of the five core members of the counsel on Friday.

Chung, an equestrian athlete who attends Ewha Womans University, is suspected to have cheated her way through life by receiving preferential treatment from her middle and high school teachers, the Korean Equestrian Federation and also Samsung Group.

After its own probe, the trustee board of Ewha revealed she wrongfully gained admission to the university and got through with the help of faculty staff, including several professors.

But at a time when Choi is adamantly denying almost all the allegations presented by the special parliamentary committee and a separate, earlier probe by Korean prosecutors, the independent counsel’s aggressive gesture to track her daughter down has a more profound meaning than meets the eye.

The team of investigators suspects Chung could be used as leverage for convincing her mom to confess to the roles of each person involved in the massive scheme, including her own.

Choi at one point begged her private lawyer to “save [Chung] from being reviled” by the public.

Lee from the independent counsel said they’ve asked German prosecutors to find Chung, bring her back to Korea and track down all the financial routes through which Choi illicitly amassed wealth. Among Choi’s accusations is that she established a shell company in Germany named Widek Sports and funneled out 100 billion won ($83.2 million) from around 500 companies, including Samsung.

Prosecutors said last month they found evidence that the top conglomerate transferred at least 3.5 billion won through the procedure.

The independent counsel also vowed to revoke Chung’s passport, which in the worst case could lead her to becoming an illegal immigrant in Germany if she does not comply.


BY LEE SUNG-EUN, KIM NA-HAN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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