Police start investigating CEO of major animal group

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Police start investigating CEO of major animal group

The police on Thursday began an investigation of Park So-youn, the founder and CEO of the well-known animal rights group Care.

A representative from another animal rights group was called in for testimony as the first witness.

Yoo Young-jae of Beagle Rescue Network, a non-profit animal rescue organization, accused Park of embezzling the foundation’s money for her personal needs and filed an official complaint against Park on Friday.

Prior to the investigation, Yoo met with reporters and told them that he had “the account files for Care [of which Park is the founder],” and that “many withdrawals were made under Park and her family members’ names.”

Yoo added that he will ask the police to look into whether Park embezzled additional money from the foundation for personal purposes. Yoo also pointed out that Care did not report any of their donations for the past three years to the United States International Revenue Service (IRS), even though donations were made to a U.S. bank account. The IRS requires all donations made to non-profit organizations be reported.

Park organized a press conference last Saturday to deny appropriating the foundation’s money. She said that the money other activists accused her of using was raised through her own personal crowdfunding. Park added that euthanizing animals was not a choice that she would have made, but was inevitable because she feared that they were going to be butchered and used as food. She also refused to step down as chief executive of Care.

Park’s troubles started when a former employee of Care told local newspapers early this month that Park had discreetly ordered over 230 animals to be euthanized, including healthy animals, which is a violation of the Animal Protection Act. Following the employee’s allegation, animal rights activists filed an official complaint against Park for violating animal protection laws, fraud and embezzlement.

The Jongno Police Precinct announced that they will question Park after they conduct all witness interviews. Until then, Park is restricted from traveling overseas.

BY JEONG JU-WON [jeong.juwon@joongang.co.kr]

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