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June 28, 2014, 12:01:48 AM
Reply #165

Offline Peter

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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #165 on: June 28, 2014, 12:01:48 AM »
Yoo believed to be using Viber to evade investigators
Quote
Yoo Byung-eun, the fugitive owner of the sunken Sewol ferry and his son Dae-kyun are believed to be using a U.S. messaging app Viber to evade a nationwide manhunt, prosecutors said Thursday.

According to the Incheon District Prosecutors' Office, investigators secured testimony from Yoo's aides that they communicated with him through the app for some time after he began hiding out in April.

Yoo reportedly told the aides to download the app, saying using Viber would be effective in evading investigators.

Similar to Korea's Kakao Talk, the U.S. app provides free messaging and call services, and has features to protect users from wiretapping and monitoring, prosecutors said.

Viber users can also delete the history of callers.

"This was confirmed by family members and their close aides who have been detained and questioned," a prosecutor said.

Also, the Yoos are believed to be using different USIM cards for smartphones to confuse investigators.

Meanwhile, the government has seized assets worth 431.5 billion won ($424 million) owned by Yoo, his family members and executives of his firms, court officials said.

They include Lee Joon-seok, the captain of the ferry Sewol and Kim Han-sik, president of the ferry's operator Chonghaejin Marine.

The government will soon file a lawsuit against them. If it wins, the money will be used to compensate victims' families as well as cover costs for salvaging and rescue operations.

Observers say it may take at least a couple of years until the final ruling is made.

On Wednesday, the police arrested Lee Seok-hwan, considered Yoo's "right-hand man," in a parking lot in Suwon, south of Seoul. Lee is believed to be an influential member of the Evangelical Baptist Church reportedly led by Yoo.

On the same day, Yoo's younger brother Byung-ho was formally detained for alleged embezzlement. He allegedly borrowed 3 billion won from one of the affiliates run by his elder brother's family, according to the prosecution.

The younger brother is also accused of coercing the church members to pay back 1.5 billion won one of his affiliate companies lost in business. Prosecutors suspect corruption by Yoo's family caused cargo overloading and other lax safety measures on the Sewol.

Yoo's oldest daughter Som-na was detained in France last month, followed by Kwon Oh-kyun, his brother-in-law; Byung-il, Yoo's older brother; Gabriel Oh, Yoo's sister's husband; and his sister, as well as Yoo's wife Kwon Yun-ja, who was arrested on June 21.

June 28, 2014, 12:03:54 PM
Reply #166

Offline Peter

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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #166 on: June 28, 2014, 12:03:54 PM »
Some interesting details in this article:
June 26, 2014: Ferry Disaster] Prosecution pressures Yoo to turn himself in
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Investigators are reportedly pressuring fugitive Yoo Byung-eun to give himself up to police by sending message from law enforcement to the de facto Sewol owner via his brother-in-law, Gabriel Oh.

According to investigative insiders, the Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office is making low-key contact with Gabriel Oh, a younger brother-in-law of Yoo, who served as the Korean Ambassador to the Czech Republic from 2010-2013.

Though the prosecution had brought in Oh and his wife for colluding with Yoo in business irregularities, it dropped its earlier position of taking him into custody by asking the court to issue arrest warrants.

Prosecutors’ release of Oh and his wife came as they allegedly expressed willingness to actively cooperate with the investigation by persuading the 73-year-old runaway to turn himself in, some insiders noted.

While Yoo is saddled with a variety of misconducts while owning Chonghaejin Marine Co., the operator of the Sewol, the prosecution has been striving to locate the fugitive’s whereabouts for about two months.

The prosecution is pinning hopes on Oh’s role as a proxy or mediator in terms of either arresting Yoo or getting him to surrender.

The government said Thursday that it would call on Yoo and his family to pay back 403 billion won ($395 million) as part of its right to demand indemnity for the victims and tragic accident.

Meanwhile, prosecutors are set to ask the Incheon District Court to issue an arrest warrant for Yoo’s close confidant, Lee Suk-hwan, who is a leader at Geumsuwon, a compound of the Salvation Sect which is reportedly led by Yoo.

The 63-year-old aide has been known as the figure who masterminded illegal cross-funding among units of Chonghaejin Marine Co.

Investigators also have not ruled out the possibility that some remarks by Yoo’s aides could have been a behind-the-scenes tactic to spread false information on the whereabouts of Yoo and his eldest son Dae-gyun, both of whom are on the nationwide wanted list.

One day after the April 16 ferry disaster, Yoo allegedly instructed some hundred devotees of the Salvation Sect to take countermeasures against the government’s stern position against the sect by delivering them emergency messages through social networking services, according to a TV news provider.

Yoo’s SNS message to followers was contradictory to his remarks that he would closely coordinate with prosecutors over their investigation into the ferry sinking.

Investigators have also raised the possibility that internal information on the search for the fugitive might have been leaked.

A senior prosecutor in charge of the team was quoted by an online news provider as saying, “There is a suspicion that former (Semo Group) chairman Yoo’s hurried escape ― as brutal criminals do ― could have been conducted as soon as his followers were informed of the direction of the prosecution’s investigation.”

The No. 3 figure at the Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office also alleged that someone in a high position, possibly outside of the Salvation Sect, may have systematically facilitated his getaway.
June 27, 2014: Gov't Lays Claim to Ferry Owner's Assets
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The government has lodged a claim to any properties held directly or by proxy by ferry owner Yoo Byung-eon, the fugitive owner of ferry operator Chonghaejin Marine, to cover compensation payments for the victims of the April 16 disaster.

The Justice Ministry has calculated the cost of search and rescue operations, compensation payments for the victims of the ferry accident, vessel salvage and other related expenses at W403.1 billion (US$1=W1,016) and filed for the sequestration of assets owned by some 20 people including Yoo, executives of Chonghaejin Marine, and crewmembers of the ferry.

A Justice Ministry official said, "With this seizure we want to freeze the assets of individuals who will be held responsible for coverage in compensating the victims and their families."

The Seoul Central District Court must now decide whether to approve the application.

Although the government can sequester more than W400 billion worth of assets from Yoo and other employees of Chonghaejin Marine, the actual amount will probably fall short.

Those of Yoo's assets the government is laying claim to overlap with W37.3 billion prosecutors have already frozen. Even if the estimated W33 billion in assets held by Chonghaejin Marine are added, the total amounts to only around W70 billion and barely tops W100 billion if the assets of the captain, crew and other staff of the ferry operator are included.

The official said the government may well decide to seize more assets de-facto owned by Yoo, an undischarged bankrupt, and his family


June 28, 2014, 09:55:29 PM
Reply #167

Offline Peter

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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #167 on: June 28, 2014, 09:55:29 PM »
More on the recently announced asset seizure:
June 28, 2014: Sewol suspects’ assets to be seized
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The government on June 20 requested the provisional seizure of assets owned by the people allegedly responsible for the Sewol ferry accident in order to reimburse a 403.1 billion won ($397.5 million) expenditure in handling the crisis.

The ship’s sinking on April 16 in the waters off Korea’s southwestern coast left nearly 300 passengers dead, mostly high school students on a class trip to Jeju Island.

Those named in the applications are Yoo Byung-eun, the de facto owner of the ferry, his family members, the ship’s crew members and officials from the Chonghaejin Marine Company, the Sewol’s operator.

Once the Seoul Central District Court accepts the application, those assets cannot be sold.

As a preliminary measure, officials will hold the collected assets until trials begin in the Sewol ferry case. If the suspects are ruled to be responsible for the accident, those assets will be used to compensate the expenses accrued in the management of the disaster.

Necessary reimbursement costs may be much higher. The government estimated the salvage of the ship to be only about 100 billion won, while maritime experts anticipate it would be around 300 to 400 billion won.

However, authorities face an uphill battle in collecting the funds because of complicated legal processes, and have secured about 200 billion won so far.

Although the assets of Yoo and his affiliates are believed to total more than 400 billion won, they are known to be liable for 374.7 billion won. The Evangelical Baptist Church that Yoo co-founded in 1960s also mortgaged its assets for tens of billions of won.

It is another problem for the government whether the reimbursement comes prior to the liabilities and collateral securities.

Prosecutors are also preparing evidence to prove that Yoo personally managed his affiliates and owns the assets of the religious sect - better known as Guwonpa, or the Salvation Sect - under fake names.

The prosecution currently has in its possession video footage of a lecture Yoo delivered to the sect’s believers in April 2010 at a hotel in Seoul.

In the lecture, Yoo admitted, “I have bought several mountains. I could not buy [the property] under my name, so I legally registered the mountains [under fake names].”


Authorities also suspect that Yoo gave an 8,900,000-square-meter (890-hectare) estate belonging to one of the sect’s farming companies to his youngest son, Yoo Hyeok-gi, after he wed.

The prosecution and police have yet to find Yoo and have only arrested some of his aides so far.

“To increase the amount of the reimbursement, we will trace not only his overseas assets, but also the assets he and his family embezzled under fake names,” a prosecutor said.








July 10, 2014, 10:57:53 AM
Reply #175

Offline Peter

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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #175 on: July 10, 2014, 10:57:53 AM »
Fugitive Ferry Owner Carrying W2 Billion in Cash
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Yoo Byung-eon, the owner of ferry operator Chonghaejin Marine, is carrying around a bag with W2 billion to aid his continuing flight from the law (US$1=W1,012).

Investigators at the Incheon District Prosecutors' Office said Yoo bought a piece of real estate in southwestern Korea while he was hiding in a house in the area in May. He purchased the land in the names of members of the cult he leads.

The previous owner said Yoo paid the W250 million price in cash out of a suitcase. Judging by the size of the bag, Yoo is believed to be carrying around W2 billion.

Meanwhile, prosecutors have apparently obtained some 300 mobile phone numbers of cult members that they allegedly used to aid the escape of their leader, whom they revere like a god, from a sprawling compound south of Seoul. The phones were registered under aliases.

Prosecutors are now tracking the numbers they called. They also plan to look into any recent real estate transactions of cult members and their relatives in order to seize more assets to cover compensation payments for victims of the April 16 ferry disaster.

July 15, 2014, 01:09:48 PM
Reply #176

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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #176 on: July 15, 2014, 01:09:48 PM »
July 5, 2014: Drunk slaps policeman over elusive ferry owner
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Busan police are questioning a man who, while intoxicated, allegedly slapped a policeman over law enforcement's failure to catch the country's most famous fugitive.

After round of heavy drinks, the man, 48, identified only as Kim, fell asleep in front of a seafood restaurant at the Yeongdo district. The policeman was called to the scene to wake Kim up.

Kim was not pleased to be disturbed from his sleep. "How dare you wake up a person when you idiots can't even catch Yoo Byung-eun," the man allegedly said as he slapped the policeman before lying down on the pavement again.

When the policeman tried to wake him up again, Kim reacted furiously, slapping the policeman six more times.

July 15, 2014, 01:16:01 PM
Reply #177

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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #177 on: July 15, 2014, 01:16:01 PM »
July 14, 2014: New arrest warrant needed to nab Yoo
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The prosecution and police are redoubling their efforts to nab Yoo Byung-eun, the de facto owner of the sunken Sewol ferry, saying they will ask a local court to reissue an arrest warrant if necessary.

The current warrant for Yoo, issued on May 22, will expire July 22. The prosecution said it will request a court to issue a new warrant if they can’t find Yoo by the deadline.

Prosecutors held a meeting with the police yesterday to discuss new ways to find the 73-year-old patriarch of the family behind the Chonghaejin Marine Company, the ship’s operator, who has been wanted since he refused to come in for questioning by the prosecution in May.

An official from the Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office, where the meeting took place, told reporters yesterday, “We will do our best to arrest Yoo by July 22.” He said they are tracking down the residences and cars of his aides, relatives and other people who were suspected of helping him escape.

According to the prosecution, a total of 115 prosecutors and investigators were dispatched to hunt down Yoo, along with 665 policemen and 2,100 Coast Guard officials as well as about 60 naval vessels searching ships that he may have used to flee abroad.

“We made efforts to search any possible places where Yoo could be hiding by investigating about 1,000 mobile phones of the members of Guwonpa [the Salvation Sect, a Christian religious group led by Yoo],” an official of the prosecution said.

The prosecution has promised an unprecedented reward of 500 million won ($490,667) for information leading to his arrest. Despite some media reports that Yoo fled abroad, the prosecution said it believes he is still in Korea.

“Based on our investigations so far, both prosecution and police are sure that he is hiding in the country,” a prosecution official said at the briefing. ...

July 16, 2014, 01:12:17 PM
Reply #178

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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #178 on: July 16, 2014, 01:12:17 PM »
July 15, 2014: Salvation Sect raises funds for fugitive Yoo
Quote
The religious cult led by the nation's most wanted fugitive, Yoo Byung-eun, is reportedly asking its followers to donate 6 billion won ($5.9 million) in cash to protect its headquarters from the authorities. But many analysts say the real intent behind the Salvation Sect's fundraising is to finance Yoo's continued flight from the prosecution.

According to a relative of a Salvation Sect follower who recently appeared on a TV program, the cult is encouraging its members to donate money to defend Geumsuwon, the religious sect's stronghold in Anseong, Gyeonggi Province, from the government. The compound was raided twice by investigators seeking to arrest Yoo and those aiding his escape from the prosecution.

The individual said that the Salvation Sect has recently launched a nationwide fund-raising campaign to collect at least 6 billion won, the third of its kind since April 16 when the ferry Sewol sank off the southwestern coast.

The cult first collected 500 million won from its members purportedly to investigate the cause of the Sewol ferry sinking. It then raised 3 billion won, saying it needs large sums of money to effectively defend the owner of the sunken ship in court.

According to a voice file acquired by a local media outlet, Cho Seung-ik, the general affairs manager of the Salvation Sect, reportedly told hundreds of followers last week that they should actively take part in the fundraising in order to protect Geumsuwon from the government. Cho allegedly said that the cult is in crisis and that its members must donate at least 6 billion won by July 20.

However, analysts suspect that the collection of the money is to provide cash to Yoo and his eldest son Dae-gyun who have been on the run for more than two months.

In addition, the Salvation Sect is reportedly attempting to brainwash its followers by saying that Yoo has been falsely accused of crimes. The former Semo Group chairman is suspected of embezzlement, tax evasion and other irregularities that could have been contributory to the ferry disaster.

July 17, 2014, 02:07:08 AM
Reply #179

Offline Peter

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Re: The Sewol's Cult Connection
« Reply #179 on: July 17, 2014, 02:07:08 AM »
Quite a few criminals owe Ahae a debt of gratitude:

July 16, 2014: Unsolved cases surge after sinking
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The wheels of justice have stalled in thousands of criminal cases over the few past months since a swath of police and prosecutors were dispatched to help hunt down the de facto owner of the Chonghaejin Marine Company, the operator of the sunken Sewol.

The prosecutors’ offices that led the investigation into the ferry disaster and 73-year-old Yoo Byung-eun, the owner of the company, saw a surge in the number of unresolved criminal cases since the maritime tragedy in April, according to a report released by the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office.

The April 16 disaster claimed the lives of more than 300 people, making it Korea’s worst maritime accident.

The report said the number of stalled cases in the Incheon District Prosecutors’ Office doubled from April through June. The Incheon office is one of three main branches conducting the probe and manhunt.

The average number of unresolved cases between January and March stood at 3,989, but that figure rose to 6,099 in May and 7,193 in June.

The other two prosecutors’ offices, the Gwangju District Prosecutors’ Office and the Busan District Prosecutors’ Office, also experienced a more than 60 percent increase in the number of delayed cases.

Following a nationwide search for Yoo in May, around 5,000 police and prosecutors have been solely dedicated to locating the elusive business mogul, according to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office.

The prosecution is pursuing Yoo over allegations of his involvement in financial irregularities. Investigators also allege that he directed or covered up unfair business practices, such as overloading the Sewol ferry and excessively remodeling the ship at the expense of passengers’ safety.

Many of the unresolved cases concern fraud, embezzlement and other crimes that have been transferred from the police.

The staff shortage has triggered concerns that other criminal cases related to the public may go unnoticed.

The country’s top prosecutor encouraged the rapid arrest of Yoo yesterday while ensuring that any unsettled cases would be handled soon. Prosecutor General Kim Jin-tae issued the order yesterday at a meeting with senior prosecutors amid the prolonged manhunt for Yoo.

“I’d like to apologize. I regret that Yoo Byung-eun and his family members have not yet been captured, despite months of effort by a joint investigation team consisting of prosecutors, police and other government agencies,” Kim said.

“We currently need to review our method of investigation to see if there are any problems in our search efforts so far, and we need to outline what needs to be corrected and what can be done to make sure Yoo is arrested quickly,” the prosecutor-general said.

The chief prosecutor also asked other prosecutors to pay attention to investigating other criminal cases, saying that they must be handled swiftly. “Please put efforts into swiftly solving other general cases, as they equally matter,” he said.

But Kim also explained the reasons for the staff shortage.

“Since the ferry disaster, we have not only investigated the people associated with Yoo, but also any potential collusion between state regulators and private industries.”

The Park Geun-hye administration has vowed to eliminate rampant corruption in the government agencies that oversee industries following the Sewol’s sinking. Such corruption is believed to have been a factor in the tragedy.

“We had to send a lot of prosecutors to conduct a wide-ranging investigation,” Kim said.

“But I’d like to emphasize that we consider other cases equally important. So we will work on arranging personnel so that those cases can be handled in a proper way.”

So far, the joint investigation team has arrested and indicted more than 30 crew members, Chonghaejin Marine Company employees and key aides to Yoo. However, it has failed to bring the business mogul and his two sons to justice, even though authorities have raised the rewards for information leading to the patriarch’s arrest and that of his eldest son to 500 million won and 100 million won, respectively. ...