» 02/22/2014 SOUTH KOREA Scandals and corruption, Yoido mega-church pastor sentenced The congregation is one of the richest and best-known of the South Korean capital. Its leader, David Yonggi Cho, found guilty of fraud to the tune of 9 million Euros. His son, former chairman of the Yeongsan Christian Cultural Center, sentenced to 3 years in prison.
Seoul ( AsiaNews) - After a lengthy
investigation and trial, the Seoul District Court has sentenced the pastor of
the Gospel Yoido church - one of the best known Protestant congregations of the
South Korean capital - to 3 years in prison and a fine of almost 5 million dollars.
The man, David Yonggi Cho, was found guilty of defrauding the church of 13.1
billion won (about 9 million Euros) and tax evasion amounting to 3.5 billion. His
son (Cho Hee- hun, former chairman of the Yeongsan Christian Cultural Center)
was also sentenced to 3 years in prison: he was immediately jailed, while his
father obtained a suspension of 5 years.
The case against the pastor and his leadership began in 2013, when - at the
request of his son - Pastor Cho 's church set aside funds to buy 250 thousand
shares in the stock market. The shares were quoted at about 35 won each, but
they were bought at 87 won leading to a disbursement paid by the faithful
amounting to more than 13 billion won. Immediately after the verdict, supporters
of the pastor sparked a small riot outside the court destroying reporters' cameras.
The story of the mega- church scandals still seems far from over. On November
30, 2013, a group of 30 "elders" of the congregation reported the
pastor and a group of his loyalists for embezzlement and corruption to a value
of approximately 500 million US dollars. Ha Sang -ok , who was part of the
group for nearly two decades, admits to being involved in some fraud : "
In the last 14 years I have seen and done bad things. I tried to convince the pastor to stop, but he
paid no attention. His behavior is not that of a Christian, but like that of a
guru of a sect".