SEOUL (AFP) – The widow of the South Korean tycoon blamed for April’s ferry disaster that killed more than 300 passengers received a suspended 18-month jail sentence Thursday for embezzlement.
Prosecutors indicted Kwon Yoon-Ja, 71, for siphoning off some $28 million from a business group that owns Chonghaejin Marine Co., the operator of the ill-fated Sewol ferry.
A district court in Incheon City also sentenced her brother Kwon Oh-Kyun to five years in prison for pocketing the diverted funds.
Kwon Yoon-Ja is the widow of Yoo Byung-Eun, the late patriarch whose family controls Chonghaejin and its affiliates.
Their son, Yoo Dae-Kyun, was sentenced last month to three years in prison for siphoning off some $7.2 million from Chonghaejin Marine and its six sister companies between 2002 and late last year.
Yoo Dae-Kyun’s uncle was also sentenced to two years for misfeasance in office last month.
Yoo’s sister, Yoo Sum-Na, is currently fighting extradition from France on similar charges as his younger brother, who is still abroad and wanted by police, is also linked to charges of embezzlement from the family-run conglomerate.
Following the ferry sinking, a manhunt was launched for the reclusive tycoon.
The badly decomposed body of the elder Yoo, who in addition to his substantial business interests also ran a religious group, was found in June. Post-mortem autopsy failed to determine the cause of his death.
Separately, CEO Kim Han-Sik of Chonghaejin Marine was sentenced to 10 years in prison last month at a court in the southern city of Gwangju after being convicted of manslaughter over the disaster.