Daughter of late businessman and operator of Sewol ferry denies any wrongdoing

By Park Sae-jin Posted : June 7, 2017, 17:32 Updated : June 7, 2017, 17:32

[Photo by Namgung Jinung = timeid@ajunews.com]

The fugitive daughter of the late businessman who owned a company operating the Sewol ferry dismissed embezzlement charges when she was dragged into the office of prosecutors for questioning after being extradited from France.

Ending her run for three years and two months, Yoo Sum-na, 51, arrived in an international airport west of Seoul, wearing white pants and a khaki jacket with her handcuffed hands covered with a black cloth.

"That's nonsense," she told reporters waiting outside the prosecutors office in Seoul, arguing she had never embezzled any company money. But she apologized to the victims of the ferry disaster and their relatives.

She fled to France soon after the overloaded Sewol carrying 476 people, including 325 students, sank off the southwestern island of Jindo. The hull was raised from the bottom of the sea in March for the search of nine people listed as missing.

The daughter of Yoo Byung-eun, a religious leader who founded Cheonghaejin Marine Co., the Sewol's operator,  is suspected of embezzling about 49 billion won (43.7 million US dollars).

Her father went missing shortly after the disaster, sparking a massive manhunt. Police allegedly discovered his body three months later in an isolated rural plum field. Many of his family members have been imprisoned on embezzlement and other charges.

The disaster -- blamed on the ship's illegal redesign and overloading left unchecked by regulators -- prompted calls to overhaul the nation's lax safety standards and tackle deep-rooted corruption. Government officials and coastguard authorities were criticized for failing to take quick steps.

Lim Chang-won = cwlim34@ajunews.com

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