Court holds hearings to decide on arrest of 2 men in property development scandal

SEOUL– Two close aides to a key suspect in a high-profile real estate development scandal attended court hearings Friday to determine whether they should be arrested for helping the suspect conceal his assets.

The scandal centers on the allegations that a private asset management company, Hwacheon Daeyu, was allowed to reap huge investment profits from the development project in Daejang-dong in Seongnam, just south of Seoul.

Lee Han-sung, co-CEO of Hwacheon Daeyu, and Choi Woo-hyang, director of the company, allegedly helped the firm’s de facto owner Kim Man-bae conceal criminal proceeds of 26 billion won (US$20 million).

A decision on whether to approve their arrest is expected to come late Friday night or early Saturday.

The suspects allegedly concealed the assets with various methods, such as fabricating accounting books and purchasing property under borrowed names, they said.

After freezing about 80 billion won worth of assets owned by Kim and other suspects in the scandal, prosecutors have been tracing their hidden assets.

Kim — currently standing trial on charges of bribery, embezzlement and breach of trust — launched the project when Lee Jae-myung, leader of the main opposition Democratic Party, was mayor of Seongnam.

Kim is recovering after attempting suicide. His injuries are not life-threatening.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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