YG CEO vows to cooperate with probes

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YG CEO vows to cooperate with probes

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Yang Min-suk, the CEO of YG Entertainment, talks to reporters Friday before a shareholders’ meeting. He promised to cooperate with a tax probe into the firm and a police investigation into a scandal involving K-pop start Seungri, who YG manages. [NEWS1]

A top executive of K-pop giant YG Entertainment said Friday that the company will fully cooperate with a government tax probe into the firm and a police investigation into a scandal involving megastar Seungri, who the company manages.

“I take the current situation very seriously,” Yang Min-suk, chief executive officer of YG Entertainment, said before attending the company’s regular shareholders’ meeting. He was reelected Friday as the YG Entertainment CEO at the meeting, which was attended by about 50 shareholders.

Yang is the younger brother of Yang Hyun-suk, the founder and chief producer of YG.

“Government authorities are currently conducting investigations and we promise our faithful cooperation. I hope the latest investigations will clarify the truth,” he said. “I hope I can discuss the issues further when we have outcomes.”

YG Entertainment, one of the country’s biggest entertainment companies, is currently undergoing a special investigation by the National Tax Service.

The Seoul Metropolitan Tax Service launched the probe on Wednesday and raided YG Entertainment headquarters and its three other buildings by sending 100 investigators. Sources said the authority is investigating allegations that the agency had declared smaller profits from its artists’ overseas concerts and concealed assets in foreign countries to evade taxes.

The company already went through a routine tax probe in 2016. At the time, it was slapped with 3.5 billion won ($3.1 million) fine for corporate tax evasion.

Yang, however, refused to elaborate on the firm’s position on the special tax probe. He also refused to discuss the allegation that Love Signal, a club reportedly owned by his brother Yang Hyun-suk, evaded taxes by registering it as a restaurant, not a nightclub.

The National Tax Service also said Friday that it has launched tax probes into 21 major nightlife venues around the country.

Yang also faced criticism that the National Pension Fund, an investor in YG, had suffered losses due to the plummeting stock price.

“I will do my best to serve the interests of shareholders,” he said. “By implementing our future plans, I will do my best to improve the stock price.”

In early January, YG Entertainment’s stock price was 50,800 won, but it plummeted to 35,400 won as of Thursday after Seungri, the youngest member of boy band Big Bang and a successful entrepreneur, was named a suspect in a sex, drugs and police protection scandal.

Seungri is being investigated by the police on charges of offering women for sex to potential investors in his businesses, including the scandal-ridden nightclub Burning Sun. He was also suspected of gambling overseas.

In the aftermath of the scandal, YG ended its contract with Seungri earlier last week. Yang admitted to public criticism on Friday that the company had failed to properly manage its artists.

“I feel serious responsibility toward society,” he said.

The National Tax Service is also conducting a probe into Burning Sun Entertainment, where Seungri once held an executive position. A hotel operated by Burning Sun Entertainment and a country club owned by the hotel are also being investigated.

A police investigation into Seungri’s criminal allegations is continuing. In a separate but related case, singer Jung Joon-young was taken into police custody on Thursday after a local court issued a detention warrant.

Jung was accused of secretly shooting and distributing sex videos without the consent of the women in them. The police investigation has shown that there are more than 10 victims.

The Seoul Central District Court ruled on Thursday that the police have presented enough evidence for the charges and there is a risk that Jung would destroy evidence.

Jung became the fourth suspect to be arrested since the police began its investigation into various allegations surrounding Burning Sun. In addition to the charges involving Jung, the police are investigating a series of allegations that the club was being protected by police against allegations it accepted underage guests, permitted drug sales and use and was involved in sexual assaults.

BY SER MYO-JA, LEE GA-YOUNG [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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