Korean Air chief indicted for embezzlement

Korean Air’s Cho Yang-ho was charged for embezzling more than 20 billion won ($18 million). (Reuters)
Updated 15 October 2018
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Korean Air chief indicted for embezzlement

  • Prosecutors charged Cho Yang-ho with embezzling more than $18 million and unfairly awarding contracts to family members
  • He is also accused of taking 152 billion won from the state insurance agency in medical care benefits

SEOUL: The head of South Korean flag carrier Korean Air — whose family have been embroiled in multiple scandals including one involving macadamia nuts — was indicted Monday on charges of embezzling tens of millions of dollars and other offenses.
Prosecutors charged Cho Yang-ho with embezzling more than 20 billion won ($18 million) and unfairly awarding contracts to companies controlled by his family members, according to Yonhap news agency.
The super-wealthy owners of chaebols — the sprawling conglomerates that dominate the world’s 11th-largest economy — often attract controversy, but a series of scandals have made the Cho family one of the most notorious in South Korea.
Cho is the chairman of Hanjin Group, which includes Korean Air and used to own the now-bankrupt Hanjin Shipping line.
He was also head of the organizing committee for the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics until stepping down two years before the Games.
The 69-year-old is also accused of taking 152 billion won from the state insurance agency in medical care benefits by illegally running a pharmacy under a borrowed name.
Initially Cho was accused of evading inheritance tax of around 61 billion won when his father, Hanjin’s founder, died in 2002, but prosecutors said the statute of limitations had expired in 2014.
The date for Cho’s trial was not set and he was not detained ahead of the proceedings.
His two daughters, who held management positions at Korean Air, previously became viral sensations for temper tantrums dubbed the “nut rage” and “water rage” scandals, forcing Cho to issue a public apology and remove them from their posts.
The elder, Cho Hyun-ah, made global headlines in 2014 for kicking a cabin crew chief off a Korean Air plane after she was served macadamia nuts in a bag rather than a bowl. She later served a short prison sentence.
Earlier this year, her younger sister Cho Hyun-min was accused of throwing a drink at an advertising agency manager’s face in a fit of rage during a business meeting. She was not indicted as the victim did not want to press charges.
Their mother, Lee Myung-hee, has been questioned by police several times in connection with allegations of assault against her employees including cursing, kicking, slapping and even throwing a pair of scissors.
Cho himself has already had brushes with the law, receiving a suspended jail sentence for tax evasion in 2000 and awaiting a separate trial for diverting 30 billion won of company funds for renovating his own house.


US poised to end waivers for 5 countries importing Iranian oil

Updated 22 April 2019
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US poised to end waivers for 5 countries importing Iranian oil

  • Japan, South Korea, Turkey, China and India were exempted from sanctions until May 2
  • Since November, Italy, Greece and Taiwan have stopped importing oil from Iran

WASHINGTON: The Trump administration is poised to tell five nations, including allies Japan, South Korea and Turkey, that they will no longer be exempt from US sanctions if they continue to import oil from Iran, officials said Sunday.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo plans to announce on Monday that the administration will not renew sanctions waivers for the five countries when they expire on May 2, three US officials said. The others are China and India.
It was not immediately clear if any of the five would be given additional time to wind down their purchases or if they would be subject to US sanctions on May 3 if they do not immediately halt imports of Iranian oil.
The officials were not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of Pompeo’s announcement.
The decision not to extend the waivers, which was first reported by The Washington Post, was finalized on Friday by President Donald Trump, according to the officials. They said it is intended to further ramp up pressure on Iran by strangling the revenue it gets from oil exports.
The administration granted eight oil sanctions waivers when it re-imposed sanctions on Iran after Trump pulled the US out of the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. They were granted in part to give those countries more time to find alternate energy sources but also to prevent a shock to global oil markets from the sudden removal of Iranian crude.
US officials now say they do not expect any significant reduction in the supply of oil given production increases by other countries, including the US itself and Saudi Arabia.
Since November, three of the eight — Italy, Greece and Taiwan — have stopped importing oil from Iran. The other five, however, have not, and have lobbied for their waivers to be extended.
NATO ally Turkey has made perhaps the most public case for an extension, with senior officials telling their US counterparts that Iranian oil is critical to meeting their country’s energy needs. They have also made the case that as a neighbor of Iran, Turkey cannot be expected to completely close its economy to Iranian goods.