Customs officials raided the headquarters of Korean Air Lines Co. and the residence of the chairman and his three children on Saturday to look into allegations that the owning family didn't pay duties on luxury goods brought into the country.
Investigators from the Korea Customs Service stormed into the main office of the country's biggest airline in western Seoul and the house of chairman Cho Yang-ho as well as his two daughters and a son.
"We searched for evidence related to allegations of smuggling foreign goods and duty evasion," a KCS official said. "It is the first time that customs officials have raided the owning family of a local conglomerate."
|Customs officials raid the office of Korean Air Co. in western Seoul on April 21, 2018, to look into allegations the families of Chairman Cho Yang-ho tried to evade sales taxes on luxury goods they bought abroad. (Yonhap)|
The search and seizure is another public embarrassment for Cho Hyun-min, Korean Air's senior vice president and the chairman's youngest daughter, who has been under probe over accusations of having thrown water in the face of an ad agency manager during a meeting last month.
Police recently raided the 35-year-old executive's office and banned her from leaving the country.
Her case, which was first revealed on a social networking site last week, drew public anger against the elite families of powerful businesses as she is the younger sister of Cho Hyun-ah, who made headlines four years ago for the high-profile "nut rage" scandal.
The elder Cho forced a plane to return to the gate in a New York airport and forced an employee to kneel and beg for forgiveness over how macadamia nuts were served.
An avalanche of allegations has been levied against the Cho family in the media reports since the high-handed behavior of the heiress sparked public outcry, prompting customs officials to look into their tax evasion allegations.
Some claimed that the chairman's wife, son and two daughters have repeatedly brought in luxury goods from overseas via airline employees' passages, without customs declaration in recent years.
If the Cho family members are found guilty of having brought in luxury items without paying sales tax, they can face maximum sentences of five years and fines up to 10 times the duties evaded. (Yonhap)
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