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Scions of chaebol nabbed for drugs

Apr 03,2019
Scions of Korea’s richest business families have been ensnared in drug crackdowns.

The Incheon Metropolitan Police Agency arrested Chey Young-geun, a grandson of SK Group founder Chey Jong-gun, on charges of buying and using liquid THC and cannabis cookies, according to a Newsis report Monday. The police said it will apply for a detention warrant to hold the suspect further for investigation.

A Hyundai Group heir and an heiress of Namyang Dairy Products were also suspected of having used drugs and separate investigations are ongoing, the police said. “We are investigating the dealers who supplied drugs to them,” a police official told the JoongAng Ilbo on Tuesday. “We obtained information that there were more buyers.”

According to the Incheon police, Chey purchased the marijuana products from a 27-year-old dealer identified by the name Lee on over 15 occasions. The police questioned Lee earlier this year. Chey was suspected of having purchased marijuana from another dealer as well, and the police are trying to find the supplier.

The police said Chey admitted to the charges. He also allegedly tested positive in a drug test.

The police also said they will soon summon a grandson of Hyundai Group founder Chung Ju-yung. The 29-year-old is currently outside Korea, and the police said they have circumstantial evidence that he purchased highly enriched liquid THC from the same dealer Chey used.

Sources in the legal community and police told the JoongAng Ilbo that Chung’s younger sister had a criminal record of drug use. The granddaughter of the late Chung was accused of smoking marijuana inside a car with a friend in August 2012.

She was arrested by the police in December 2012 at the airport after an overseas trip, and tested positive in a drug test. She was later tried, convicted and sentenced to pay a 3 million won ($2,639) fine.

The Southern Gyeonggi Provincial Police Agency said Monday that it is investigating Hwang Hana, 30, a granddaughter of the late founder of Namyang Dairy Products, Hong Du-yeong, on charges of using drugs.

The National Police Agency also said it is looking into the suspicion that an earlier probe of Hwang for drug purchases had been obstructed. Hwang never faced a criminal charge although she was implicated in drug cases in 2015 and 2011.

Hwang was suspected of having supplied a 0.5 gram of methamphetamine to a university student identified by the name Jo in 2015. While she faced no criminal charges, Jo was convicted of buying and using the drug by the Seoul Central District Court in January 2016. Jo was given a suspended prison term of two years and six months.

The verdict for Jo specifically stated that Hwang supplied the methamphetamine in September 2015, and the court identified her as a co-conspirator.

The Seoul Jongno Police Precinct investigated the case but asked the prosecution to indict Jo alone. A prosecution source told the JoongAng Ilbo that the police didn’t have sufficient evidence to press charges against Hwang at the time.

“Unless the police booked the suspect and handed the case over to the prosecution, we cannot arbitrarily indict him or her,” the prosecution source said. “At least in 2015, Hwang’s case was never sent to us.”

Seoul Jongno Police said all the investigators who probed the case in 2015 are now serving in other precincts and it is hard to say what happened at the time.

Meanwhile, Namyang Dairy issued a statement Tuesday saying that Hwang and her family do not work for the company or own shares. “The company has nothing to do with the suspicion that the law enforcement authorities did not conduct a proper investigation because she was a relative of the owner.”

BY KIM MIN-WOOK, PARK SA-RA [ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr]