There are all sorts of jokes I can make about the Cho family in South Korea, the powerful chaebol that owns Korean Air. But this is no laughing matter.
South Korea has been conducting some “house cleaning” since a new administration took power last year promising to curb the power of the family-owned conglomerates that dominate the nation. Slowly, it seems, the dominoes are following across industries. Reuters reports:
A Seoul prosecutors’ office on Monday said Cho [Yang-ho] took 19.6 billion won ($17 million) commission from 2003 through 2018 by setting up a trading company to broker aircraft equipment and in-flight duty-free goods purchase deals for Korean Air, causing the same amount of loss to the airline.
It may seem like that is his prerogative as owner of the company. Indeed, these side deals routinely occur in business situations around the world. But he has a fiduciary duty to shareholders and now Cho is in trouble. And there’s this:
The 69-year-old is also accused of taking 152 billion won from the state insurance agency in medical care benefits by illegally running a pharmacy under a borrowed name.
Good news for Emily Cho, though, who on Monday was cleared of battery charges after allegedly throwing drinks at two colleagues during a meeting. The case was dropped because they declined to press charges.
Sister Heather Cho, at the heart of the famous nut-gate incident, has been focusing on the hotel side of the family business and stayed out of the public spotlight.
I’m not so well-versed in Korean politics that I can say whether this is witch hunt or a valid use of governmental power to curb abuses. But it doesn’t sound good for the Cho family…