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Ex-prosecutor general's mother-in-law gets 3-year prison term

All News 11:35 July 02, 2021

SEOUL, July 2 (Yonhap) -- The mother-in-law of former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl, a leading presidential hopeful, was sentenced to three years in prison on Friday for opening a medical facility without qualifications and accepting state benefits for its operation.

The local district court in Uijeongbu, 23 kilometers north of Seoul, convicted the 74-year-old, surnamed Choi, of collaborating with three partners to establish a medical foundation and then opening a long-term care hospital for senior citizens in February 2013, despite having no medical qualifications.

This June 8, 2021, file photo shows Former Prosecutor General Yoon Seok-youl's mother-in-law (2nd from L) arriving at the Uijeongbu District Court in the city 23 kilometers north of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Choi was also convicted of fraud for accepting 2.29 billion won (US$2.02 million) in medical care allowances from the National Health Insurance Service until 2015.

The ruling is in line with the prosecution's demand for a three-year prison term.

Choi had pleaded innocent, saying she had no part in opening the hospital and listed herself as a member of the foundation's board of directors to ensure she got back the money she gave on loan to one of the three alleged partners.

Prosecutors dismissed the claim, saying she got one of her other sons-in-law hired by the hospital and ran its operations, including by trying to get a bank loan to expand its facilities.

An investigation into the case began in 2015 and initially implicated only the three partners, leading to a four-year prison sentence for one and suspended prison sentences for the other two.

Choi escaped punishment because she had obtained a form exonerating her of all responsibility in the hospital's operation before stepping down as co-chair of the board in 2014.

The case was reopened, however, after a group of plaintiffs, including Rep. Choe Kang-wook of the minor Open Democratic Party, filed a complaint in April 2020 over various allegations involving the then top prosecutor, his wife and his mother-in-law.

Choi's defense team slammed the complaint as a politically motivated attempt to force Yoon's resignation.

Choi is standing a separate trial on charges of fabricating a bank document in the process of buying land.

hague@yna.co.kr
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