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Top court finalizes not-guilty verdict for Yoon's mother-in-law in health fraud case

All News 11:24 December 15, 2022

SEOUL, Dec. 15 (Yonhap) -- The Supreme Court on Thursday finalized a not-guilty verdict for President Yoon Suk-yeol's mother-in-law accused of taking state health insurance benefits after illegally opening a care hospital.

The 76-year-old mother of first lady Kim Keon-hee was charged with opening the long-term care hospital for the elderly in February 2013 without a medical license and illegally accepting 2.29 billion won (US$1.76 million) in state benefits from the National Health Insurance Service until 2015 in collaboration with three business partners.

Choi pleaded innocence, saying she merely listed herself as a co-chair of a medical foundation overseeing the hospital after offering a loan for the establishment of the foundation. She also claimed she was not involved in opening or operating the facility.

A district court had given her a three-year jail term last year, finding her guilty of "active involvement" in establishing and managing the hospital.

The Seoul High Court in January struck down the prison sentence and acquitted her of all the charges, citing a lack of evidence.

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the lower court's acquittal of Choi, again citing insufficient evidence.

"If prosecutors' case against a defendant fails to be convincing enough to shake off the judge's reasonable doubt, the court is required to rule in favor of the defendant despite lingering suspicions," a court official said of the verdict.

An investigation into the case began in 2015, but only the three business partners were implicated and convicted at that time.

The case was later reopened after a group of people, including now opposition lawmaker Rep. Choe Kang-wook, filed a complaint in April 2020 over various allegations involving Yoon and his family. Yoon was serving as prosecutor general when the complaint was filed.

This file photo shows the mother-in-law of President Yoon Suk-yeol. (Yonhap)

This file photo shows the mother-in-law of President Yoon Suk-yeol. (Yonhap)


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