by STEVE HAN
The daughter of a South Korean religious cult compound who allegedly owns the ferry was found and arrested Tuesday in France, according to local police.
Yoo Somena, the daughter of Yoo Byung-eun, a mysterious tycoon whose properties include the company that operated the Sewol ferry which sank on April 16 and killed more than 300 people, was reportedly detained at her home in Paris. Earlier this month, South Korean officials issued an international arrest warrant to the French police on allegations that the woman played a role in embezzlement from 2004 to 2013.
South Korea made an Interpol request for Yoo Somena to be repatriated as officials are still searching for her father and two brothers, the majority owners of Chongjaejin Marin Co., the ferry’s operator. The daughter allegedly fled to France after the ferry capsized and has been ignoring a summons to return to Korea.
Repatriating Yoo Somena is expected to be a lengthy process because she is currently under the French jurisdiction.
South Korean authorities want to question Yoo Somena for the alleged embezzlement from her interior design company, Morealdesign Co. Prosecutors requested the South Korean court to freeze assets owned by her family to prevent sales or transfers of companies linked to the alleged embezzlement. The assets are reportedly worth $235 million.
Yoo Byung-eun, the father of the family, is facing allegations of tax evasion, embezzlement and professional negligence. He allegedly still operates the ferry operator through a web of holding companie,s which are believed to be owned by his children.
Prosecutors are hinting that the Yoo family’s failure to spend enough money on maintaining the ferry’s safety standards could have contributed to its sinking. Six weeks after the Sewol ferry capsized, 288 dead bodies have been recovered while 16 are still missing. Most victims were high school students who boarded the ship on a field trip.
Photo: South Korean police raided the Evangelical Baptist Church in the hopes of finding Yoo Byung-eun last week.