Choi Soon-sil's Daughter May be Placed on Interpol's Wanted List
SEOUL, Dec. 27 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's independent counsel team looking into a corruption case surrounding President Park Geun-hye and her confidante Choi Soon-sil said Tuesday it decided to request that Interpol put Choi's daughter on the wanted list.
The investigators have been searching for the whereabouts of the 20-year-old Chung Yoo-ra, who is presumed to be staying in Germany. The team earlier said it has secured a court warrant to detain Chung for questioning on charges of business obstruction.
The team said it decided to make the request as she has declined to respond to the investigation despite repetitive summons.
Choi is suspected of having exercised influence over key state affairs and used her ties with Park for financial gains and personal favors. State prosecutors identified Park as an accomplice.
South Korea's top conglomerate Samsung Group allegedly signed a 22 billion-won (US$18.2 million) contract with a Germany-based company owned by Choi and financially supported her daughter Chung's purchase of equestrian horses, training and other costs.
"With the request to Interpol, we have taken all possible legal actions to bring her back home," the team said. Investigators requested the foreign ministry to invalidate her passport and the ministry is set to soon initiate the process of confiscating it.
Sources said Chung is seeking to hire her attorney in Germany to cope with the independent counsel's investigation.
"I advised Chung to return home voluntarily and receive the probe from the independent counsel," Chung's local attorney Lee Kyung-jae said.
Chung's lawyer, however, said putting her on the Interpol wanted list should be reconsidered, adding such actions can only apply to heavy crimes.
If Chung is included on the wanted list, she would be repatriated to South Korea as soon as she is caught in any of the 190 member countries of the international organization.
While the measure is usually imposed on violent offenders and economic culprits who conducted crimes estimated at 5 billion won or higher, it can also be applied to major criminals sought under arrest warrants.
"We are currently preparing the related documents. If we complete the request to Interpol today, it will be delivered to German police tomorrow given the time gap," a local police official said. "It is up to the German police how much effort they will allocate to arresting Chung. We plan to send a separate letter to Germany to ask for cooperation."
Experts, however, said there may be difficulty in capturing Chung as she can relocate to any European country freely without inspection under the Schengen agreement.
The team, meanwhile, said it has also confiscated a mobile phone of Kim Ki-choon, 77, who served as presidential chief of staff from 2013 to 2015. Kim is suspected of overlooking and even protecting the president's confidante Choi as she meddled in state affairs without any government post.
The independent counsel raided Kim's house Monday. The team said it is also considering raiding the presidential office.'