* Prosecutors seek father and two sons, whose businesses
include ferry firm
* Business patriarch Yoo was also co-founder of Christian
* Yoo's whereabouts unknown
* Chief executive of holding company indicted for
embezzlement, channeling funds to the Yoo family
(Adds indictment of a subsidiary CEO for paying Yoo, paragraphs
By Ju-min Park
ANSEONG/INCHEON, South Korea, May 21 Hundreds of
followers of a religious sect submitted on Wednesday to a search
of their rural commune by South Korean authorities seeking the
arrest of the head of the family that operated a ferry which
capsized last month killing more than 300 people.
Yoo Byung-un is wanted on charges of embezzlement,
negligence and tax evasion stemming from a web of business
holdings centered around I-One-I, an investment vehicle owned by
his sons that ran the shipping company Chonghaejin Marine.
Believed to be in his 70s, Yoo is a co-founder of the
Evangelical Baptist Church that runs the sprawling Anseong
compound about two hours south of Seoul.
The victims of the ferry disaster were mostly children, and
President Park Geu-hye sobbed as she apologised to the
grief-stricken nation in a television address on Monday, while
her government has vowed to improve national safety standards.
Arrest warrants have been issued for Yoo's two sons, the
younger of which is believed to be in the United States.
Prosecutors conceded they had no confirmation of the
whereabouts of Yoo or his eldest son, and said they were
probably no longer in the Anseong commune but added
investigators were also looking for other evidence.
"Again, this investigation is about personal wrongdoings on
the part of Yoo Byung-un and sons related to the management of
Chonghaejin Marine," Kim Hoe-jong, a senior prosecutor in the
case, said in Incheon. "It has nothing to do with religion."
Followers had prevented the authorities, armed with court
warrants, from entering the compound earlier by staging a sit-in
at the gate. They said they had nothing to hide and have accused
the government of religious persecution.
"We will prove that our dear brother Yoo Byung-un is not an
evil man and that he has lived as a role model citizen of this
country practicing the love of Jesus Christ," Lee Tae-jong, a
spokesman for the group, said at the compound gate.
About 1,200 police officers were on site to keep order and
helicopters hovered over the Anseong compound as dozens of
investigators entered the gate in several vehicles while group
followers sang hymns.
Members of the sect grow organic produce and run a
freshwater fish farm at Anseong, and Yoo also has a photography
Prosecutors have raided a house believed to be Yoo's in
Seoul and other locations where he was thought to be holed up
evading summons to appear for questioning.
The chief executive of a subsidiary of I-One-I, the holding
company controlled by Yoo's sons, was indicted later on
Wednesday on charges of embezzling company funds and channelling
the money to Yoo and his family.
The indictment of Song Guk-bin, head of Dapanda, which
retails health supplements and cosmetics, is part of
investigations into businesses owned by the family, none of
which are listed, for improper use of company money.
The Sewol ferry, massively overloaded with cargo and without
enough water in the ballast tanks to keep steady, capsized on
April 16 during a routine journey from the mainland port of
Incheon to the holiday island of Jeju.
Most of the victims were children and their teachers on a
field trip from a high school on the outskirts of Seoul.
All 15 surviving crew members were indicted last week,
including the captain and three senior crew members on homicide
charges. Nine others were indicted for negligence and two on a
lesser charge of abandoning the vessel.
The prosecution said the ferry was structurally defective
after a remodelling to add capacity and was massively overloaded
The elder Yoo was once jailed for fraud in the 1990s but was
cleared of complicity in the suicides of 32 workers of a company
linked to his church in 1987.
(Writing by Jack Kim; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)