Senior Pastor at World’s Largest Pentecostal Church Gets Indicted for Financial Fraud

David Yonggi Cho of Yoido Full Gospel Church, the world largest Pentecostal church, has some serious problems.  Yonggi has been indicted on charges of breach of trust by prosecutors.  The indictment involves millions in misappropriated church money and additional charges of tax evasion.

Yonggi, 77, senior pastor at the church is suspected of breach of trust resulting in 10 billion won (US$9.2 million) in losses to his church. Also he is being investigated on suspicion of 6 billion won (US$5.52 million) in tax evasion.

Cho’s son, Hee-jun, 48,the secretary general for the church, has already been taken into custody over the matter, which has shaken the religious community.

Yoido Full Gospel Church has over a million members around the world and is the biggest Pentecostal congregation on earth.  It was founded in 1958 by Cho himself and his mother.  He and his mother are both Assemblies of God pastors.  He was first investigated in 2011 after being accused of embezzling $20 million.

In December 2012, South Korean prosecutors booked his son Cho Hee-jun without detention of breach of trust.”

In Dec. 2012, investigators from the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, led by Lee Hyeon-sang, booked Cho Hee-jun, David Cho’s son, without detention on charges of breach of trust and identified David Cho as an accomplice to the crime. He is accused of causing 15.74 billion won (US$14.49 million) of damages to the church.

 

Allegedly, on Dec. 6, 2002, while serving as chairman of Next Media Group, he sold the church 250,000 shares of stock in I-Service at 86,984 won (US$80.06) per share, much more expensive than the market price of 24,032 won (US$22.12) per share.

 

During the investigation, prosecutors also acquired evidence of tax evasion by David Cho. In 2004, when theSeoulregional tax office judged that this stock sale was a gift and ordered that 10.3 billion won (US$9.48 million) of taxes be paid he enlisted the aid of an accountant and submitted falsified documents to the tax office.

He is suspected of using this means to only pay 4 billion won (US$3.68 million) in taxes, evading 6 billion won.

“David Cho has submitted documents about previous cases that show that such stock transactions are not subject to taxation, so we are conducting a legal review,” said a source with the prosecutors’ office. “Since we have indicted Cho Hee-jun as his accomplice, it is necessary for us to indict David Cho as well, even if only on charges of breach of trust.”

 

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