A Seoul court on Monday issued a warrant to arrest a relative of Justice Minister Cho Kuk as part of a widening probe into corruption allegations surrounding the minister's family.
|The son of Justice Minister Cho Kuk’s cousin heads to a detention center, Monday. (Yonhap)|
Cho took office earlier this month despite a heated debate among political parties and the general public over suspicions regarding his daughter's education and a family fund investment.
The Seoul Central District Court's decision is expected to speed up the probe as the relative, also surnamed Cho, is at the center of allegations about the family's dubious investments in a private equity fund.
The minister's relative was arrested at Incheon International Airport on Saturday on a preliminary warrant on embezzlement and other charges after being out of the country for about a month.
He is considered the de facto owner of Co-Link Private Equity, the operator of a fund to which Cho's wife and two children, as well as his brother-in-law and his two children, have invested a combined 1.4 billion won ($1.2 million).
Cho, the son of one of Cho Kuk's cousins, is accused of rigging stock prices and embezzling billions of won from companies invested in by Co-Link.
He is also suspected of running the private equity firm without officially registering as its chief executive, among other charges.
The private equity firm's website introduces three company executives, but Cho is not one of them.
The official chief executive of the firm has also been questioned by prosecutors. But the court denied prosecutors' request to arrest him last week, saying more relevant evidence is needed.
The fund invested most of the money from the Cho family in Wealth C&T, a local lamppost switch manufacturer, two months after Cho Kuk became the senior presidential secretary for civil affairs in 2017. The company's sales soared after the investment thanks to massive orders from government offices.
Prosecutors are expected to focus on whether Cho's wife unjustly intervened in the investment process and whether there were any irregularities in the fund investment.
The justice minister has claimed that the family was not aware of the companies the fund invested in and the role the cousin's son played in the private equity firm. (Yonhap)