South Korean authorities search ferry owner’s offices, other sites

By Michelle Kapusta,

On Wednesday, South Korean authorities searched the offices of Yoo Byung-eun, a billionaire whose family owns the sunken ferry Sewol.

CNN reported that investigators confirmed that they searched the offices of 20 organizations affiliated with Cheonghaejin Marine Company, as well Byung-eun’s home.

According to Korea Joongang Daily, 50 investigators raided the offices and residence of the 73-year-old who is allegedly involved in tax evasion, embezzlement and illicit foreign currency trading.

Authorities have said that Byung-eun’s financial background may be relevant to compensation for the families of victims of the capsized ferry.

The ferry was doing a transit on April 16 from Incheon to the island of Jeju before it sank. More than 300 passengers aboard were high school students on a field trip. So far, rescuers have retrieved 159 bodies leaving 143 still missing.

Details about the crew’s inexperience and wrongdoing during the time of the disaster are still emerging. Eleven of the crew members, including the captain, have been arrested. An engineer told investigators that the crew escaped using passages only accessible by the staff, while the passengers were told to remain on the ship while it was sinking.

The captain and crew are facing charges in connection with the incident.

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