Court rejects arrest warrant for Hanjin group chairman Cho

Lim Chang-won Reporter Posted : 2018-07-06 08:33 Updated : 2018-07-06 08:33
글씨작게 글씨크게

Hanjin Group chairman Cho Yang-ho walks out of a detention center in Seoul after a court rejected his arrest warrant. [Yonhap News Photo]

SEOUL -- Cho Yang-ho, the chairman of South Korea's embattled Hanjin group, which controls Korean Air, was released from temporary custody Friday after a court refused to issue an arrest warrant, saying he should be given a chance to defend himself over contentious accusations.

Cho is suspected of awarding improper contracts to companies controlled by his family, using company money to pay attorney fees for him and his family and using a borrowed name to run a pharmacy illegally.

Hanjin has seen its image plunging due to a scandal involving the chairman's youngest daughter, Cho Hyun-min, who allegedly threw a glass cup and sprayed plum juice during a business meeting with advertising agency officials on March 16. She told investigators that she lost her temper because the advertising company did not properly answer her questions.

The scandal fueled widespread public anger, leading to multiple investigations into illegal activities by the chairman's wife and two daughters who have been questioned on charges of creating a slush fund, evading taxes, bringing in luxury foreign goods illegally, abusing and assaulting company employees and others

Cho Hyun-ah, the chairman's eldest daughter, was questioned by customs officials for bringing in personal goods purchased overseas without paying taxes. She was once arrested in 2014 for an onboard tantrum when served macadamia nuts in a bag rather than a bowl. She was imprisoned for a year for violating aviation law but she was released in May 2015 after an appeals court suspended her sentence.

Despite strong public demands for punishment, no family members have been arrested yet as court judges were reluctant to issue arrest warrants, citing no possibility of running away or destroying evidence.