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SEOUL, July 25 (Yonhap) -- A son of former Daewoo Group founder Kim Woo-choong has been found to be the owner of a luxury golf course in Vietnam, an online news outlet said Thursday, accusing the disgraced businessman of siphoning off funds instead of paying the restitutions he owes the state.
Kim Sun-yong, the third son of the businessman who has been officially declared bankrupt, acquired a 100 percent stake in Van Tri Gold Club in central Hanoi, in 2010, said the Korea Center for International Journalism (KCIJ), an online news outlet specializing in divulging corruption involving Korean celebrities.
According to the Seoul-based center, the son's consulting company took over the ownership of the golf course in 2006 from Noble Assets Ltd, a Singapore-based paper company which built it. The value of the golf course is now estimated at 60 billion won (US$53.7 million), it said.
The independent news outlet claimed that the junior Kim used the bogus firm set up in a tax haven as a channel to buy the golf course. It claimed that a close aide to Kim's father had been involved in helping the son acquire Noble Assets.
Kim Joo-sung, the former president of Daewoo Hanoi, oversaw the whole process from setting up of the paper company and its sale to the younger Kim's firm, the KCIJ said.
Kim's father bought the business license to build the golf course in 1993, and it was a few years before his Daewoo Group, the then second-largest conglomerate in South Korea, collapsed, incurring massive debts of about 80 trillion won.
After years of hiding out overseas, he returned to South Korea in 2005 and was promptly put under arrest. He was charged with an accounting fraud of 41 trillion won, illegally borrowing 9.8 trillion won and smuggling $3.2 billion out of the country. He was later pardoned by then President Lee Myung-bak in January 2008.
To this day, the former Daewoo chief owes the state an uncollected restitution of 17.9 trillion won. Of the total, Kim has only paid 88.7 billion won, less than 0.5 percent.
According to the KCIJ, the elder Kim, now residing in the Southeast Asian country, visits the golf course almost everyday to "keep in shape."
It was KCIJ's latest revelation of suspicious tax evaders list involving prominent South Korean figures. Since early this year, the center has exposed more than 20 such high-profile cases.
In May, KCIJ reported that a son of the disgraced former South Korean president, Chun Doo-hwan, was suspected of having diverted illegal funds overseas through a shell company set up in a foreign tax haven.
Chun, a former army general who seized power in a 1979 internal coup, was convicted of amassing huge slush funds during his term of office in the 1980s.
In 1997, the court ordered him to return to the state coffers 220 billion won. He has so far paid only a quarter of the total, with some 167.2 billion won remaining unpaid.
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