South Korean police arrest brother of fugitive ferry family boss

ANSEONG South Korea Fri Jun 13, 2014 10:23am IST

Family members of victims onboard sunken ferry Sewol sit in front of a building in which crew members are detained, after attending a hearing at the local court in Gwangju June 10, 2014. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

Family members of victims onboard sunken ferry Sewol sit in front of a building in which crew members are detained, after attending a hearing at the local court in Gwangju June 10, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

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ANSEONG South Korea (Reuters) - The brother of a South Korean businessman linked to a ferry disaster in which hundreds of school children drowned in April was arrested by police on Friday, police and prosecutors said.

Yoo Byung-un, the 73-year-old fugitive businessman and photographer being sought by police, is still on the run.

His elder brother, Yoo Byung-il, was arrested near a leafy church compound in Anseong, two hours south of Seoul, where police are checking all passing vehicles and pedestrians in what has become South Korea's biggest manhunt.

Yoo Byung-un is wanted on charges of embezzlement, negligence and tax evasion stemming from a web of business holdings centred on I-One-I, an investment vehicle owned by his sons that ran the shipping company, Chonghaejin Marine.

Chonghaejin owned the ferry Sewol, which sank off the southwest coast on April 16 on a routine journey from Incheon on the mainland to the southern holiday island of Jeju.

Despite his arrest, prosecutors have not disclosed any charges for Yoo Byung-il. Yonhap news agency said he received monthly consulting fees from Chonghaejin and was arrested on charges of embezzlement and fraud-related real estate deals.

Reuters was unable to verify the report independently.

Authorities have arrested a man believed to have delivered food to Yoo Byung-un and one of his drivers. They are also looking for two middle-aged sect members who are accused of helping him escape.

Police said they believe Yoo Byung-un and one of his sons are still in South Korea. Another son is based in the United States but his whereabouts could not be established by Reuters.

His daughter has been held in France since May 28 following a call from Interpol for her arrest.

South Korea's Ministry of Security and Public Administration will hold nationwide neighbourhood meetings on Friday, where they will distribute wanted posters of Yoo Byung-un and his son, a spokesman for the ministry said.

Of the 476 passengers and crew on board the Sewol, 339 were children and teachers from the same school. Only 172 people were rescued and the remainder are all presumed to have drowned in South Korea's worst civilian maritime disaster in 20 years.

(Additional reporting by Sohee Kim; Writing by James Pearson; Editing by Paul Tait)

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