Wednesday, April 21, 2021

South Korean justice minister accused of corruption and abuse of office

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South Korean prosecutors raided the home of Justice Minister Cho Kuk, the Yonhap News Agency reported, as part of a widening corruption investigation that has already dented support for President Moon Jae-in.

Investigators entered Cho’s house shortly after 9 a.m. Monday, Yonhap said, citing the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office. The move comes amid a range of inquiries into issues involving Cho and his wife including their children’s university applications and an investment in a private equity fund. Cho has denied wrongdoing.

The Seoul Central Prosecutor’s Office, the Justice Ministry and the presidential office declined to comment when reached by phone Monday.

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The raid comes two weeks after Moon appointed Cho — a political ally and close confidant — despite parliamentary resistance to his nomination. The president’s approval rating slipped to a record low of 40 percent last week, a regular Gallup Korea survey showed, as the appointment controversy, a slowing economy and setbacks in U.S.-North Korea talks all weighed on his support.

Prosecutors are investigating how Cho’s daughter won admission to a prestigious university after she was credited as a main author of a published scientific paper while a high school student on a brief internship. They’re also looking into how his family made a hefty profit from a questionable investment in the private equity fund.

Cho’s university professor wife Chung Kyung-shim was indicted earlier this month on allegations that she interfered with the probe by forging documents, YTN reported. Chung has denied the allegations in a Facebook post.

On Monday, prosecutors visited Cho’s home in southern Seoul to collect computer hard drives and numerous work-related documents, Yonhap said. Investigators have visited numerous locations related to the probes, including the private equity fund’s office and university campuses.

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