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Suspended jail terms upheld for Korean Air family in smuggling case

National 15:38 December 20, 2019

INCHEON, Dec. 20 (Yonhap) -- An appellate court on Friday upheld suspended prison terms for the widow and eldest daughter of late Korean Air Chairman Cho Yang-ho for smuggling luxury items.

The appellate division of the Incheon District Court sentenced Cho Hyun-ah, the eldest daughter of the late chairman and a former vice president of Korean Air, to eight months in prison, suspended for two years, and ordered her to conduct 80 hours of community service.

The same court also sentenced the late chairman's wife, Lee Myung-hee, 70, to an imprisonment of six months, suspended for one year, and a fine of 7 million won (US$5,900).

File photos show Lee Myung-hee (L) and Cho Hyun-ah. (Yonhap)

File photos show Lee Myung-hee (L) and Cho Hyun-ah. (Yonhap)

Cho and Lee were indicted in February on charges of smuggling more than 100 million won worth of overseas luxury goods via Korean Air planes and drew suspended prison sentences from the Incheon District Court in June.

Cho, 45, is accused of having smuggled goods worth about 88 million won, including clothes and bags, from abroad via 203 Korean Air flights between January 2012 and May last year.

Lee was charged with having Korean Air overseas offices buy 37 million won worth of goods, including earthenware, and illegally importing them via 46 flights between May 2013 and March last year. She was also indicted on charges of having falsely reported to the customs office that the airline imported furniture worth 35 million won, including sofas, which she privately purchased between January-July 2014.

"Cho abused her position as a daughter of a conglomerate chairman and betrayed the public trust in the social values of a corporation. But the previous court ruling appears appropriate considering that most of the smuggled goods are household items, rather than luxury goods," the Incheon appellate division said.

Regarding Lee, the court also noted that she seemed to show an attitude of disregarding the legal order but her sentence was determined in consideration of the insignificant impact of her act on the customs administration.

Cho and Lee were separately indicted on charges of illegal hiring Filipino housekeepers but both got suspended jail terms from an appellate court in Seoul last month.


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