Full Gospel Church in trouble
Kukmin Ilbo Chairman Cho Min-je, who’s now on trial on embezzlement charges, has been indicted for another misdeed _ misusing a government subsidy granted to the Christian daily.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said Friday Cho allegedly inflated the expense for a new editing system to get 200 million won from the culture ministry in June 2008. He is suspected of having spent the money for other purposes.
It was the second indictment for the 42-year-old, the second son of Yoido Full Gospel Church founder Pastor Cho Yong-gi. The chairman, who has U.S. citizenship, has been on trial for breach of trust and embezzlement concerning another company he runs, while his father and other family members face various corruption allegations.
Another director of the daily, surnamed Kang, was also indicted for misusing the subsidy.
Cho and Kang allegedly applied for the state fund, pretending it was necessary to pay Digiwave, a computer firm owned by Cho, for updating the editing system.
Digiwave received the money from the ministry, but gave 140 million won to the Kukmin Ilbo under a sponsorship deal for the newspaper-organized marathon event, and an additional 60 million won under another pretext.
Digiwave is Kukmin Ilbo’s affiliate that develops newspaper editing systems and provides audio systems for churches. Cho was suspected of having misappropriated Digiwave’s company funds, but the prosecution cleared him of the suspicion.
“The subsidy was not used for the editing system change. We suspect the chairman used the money for other aims,” a prosecutor said.
If the allegation is true, Cho must pay the money back to the government.
Last year, Cho was found to have American citizenship _ a violation of the Law on Newspapers that bans organizations with non-Korean heads from publishing newspapers. The newspaper’s board then promoted him to chairman, taking advantage of a loophole in the law. He is now taking steps to regain Korean nationality.
The Kukmin Ilbo refuted the prosecution’s claim, saying the company did upgrade its editing system with the subsidy and it cost an additional 260 million won of company funds.
In a separate case, Cho was indicted last November for causing a 4.5-billion won loss to a waste management company he had taken over.
Cho’s other family members are involved in a number of corruption allegations.
Most recently, his father, Rev. Cho, was sued by another pastor who claimed the senior Cho sold a church he owned in the United States without his permission. Demanding 3 billion won in compensation, the pastor, surnamed Park, claimed Rev. Cho stole the property from him.
Previously the family was accused of misusing church funds and committing various other irregularities by dominating the church’s governance.