SEOUL • South Korean prosecutors indicted former justice minister Cho Kuk yesterday on a dozen charges, including bribery, two months after he resigned over a scandal involving family investment and university admissions for his children.
The accusations are a setback for President Moon Jae-in after the liberal leader named Cho, a former top aide, to the Cabinet post to lead reform of the prosecutors' office, which critics saw as being susceptible to political pressure.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office indicted Cho and his wife over their family investment and using their position to gain college admissions for his children.
Cho faces a dozen charges, including bribery, document fraud, manipulation of evidence and public service ethics law violations.
He and his wife, Chung Kyung-shim, are being prosecuted for falsifying documents regarding family investments and their children's university admissions.
Cho will remain free as he stands trial. Chung, a university professor, was arrested in October.
Cho's lawyer, Mr Kim Chil-joon, did not respond to telephone calls to seek comment. Yonhap News Agency had quoted him as saying that the prosecutors had handed down "a political indictment based on their imagination and fiction".
The resignation and indictment of Cho were a spectacular downfall for the former star legal scholar known for his progressive thinking. He was also one of Mr Moon's closest political allies and considered by some as a potential presidential successor.
Mr Moon came to power in 2017 promising to clean up corruption after weeks of large street protests that led to the impeachment of his predecessor Park Geun-hye.
Cho stepped down in October, after just one month in office, saying the graft scandal around his family had become a political burden for Mr Moon's government.
His appointment was followed by street protests for and against the President on a scale not seen since 2017, hitting Mr Moon's public support ratings.