Former Justice Minister Cho Kuk’s relative Cho Beom-dong on Monday denied embezzlement charges raised against him during the first hearing of his trial in connection with the corruption allegations that led to the former minister’s resignation.
Cho Beom-dong, 36, was indicted in October on a number of charges, including embezzlement, over his role in ethically questionable investments in a private equity fund in which the ex-minister’s wife and other family members had invested.
Cho Beom-dong is considered a de facto owner of Co-Link Private Equity, the operator of a fund in which Cho Kuk’s wife, Chung Kyung-shim, and their two children as well as his brother-in-law and his two children invested a combined 1.4 billion won ($1.19 million).
The prosecution suspects Cho Beom-dong made investments on behalf of Chung, since her husband’s position at the time disqualified her from directly investing in stocks. Cho was appointed senior presidential secretary for civil affairs and justice in May 2017.
Cho Beom-dong is suspected of signing a false contract to financially benefit Chung. He gave 1.5 billion won to Chung and her brother after the signing of the contract, which the prosecution sees as embezzlement. Cho Beom-dong claims the payment was interest for the money Co-Link had borrowed from Chung.
During the hearing, the Seoul Central District Court accepted prosecutors’ request to name Chung as an accomplice to the alleged embezzlement.