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World's Largest Church Leader Arrested: Dr.Cho receives 3 years for embezzlement

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SEOUL, South Korea - Dr. David Yong-gi Cho, pastor of the largest Pentecostal congregation in the world, was found guilty of embezzlement and sentenced to three years imprisonment on Saturday, by a South Korean court.

Dr. Cho, the 78-year-old pastor who founded Yoido Full Gospel Church in 1958 has been formally accused of causing his church to suffer $12 million in financial loss. Dr. Cho’s son, Hee-jun has been sentenced to three years in prison as well.

In 2001, twenty-nine of Dr. Cho’s church elders filed a lawsuit against Cho, accusing him of embezzling $20 million US. In 2002, Dr. Cho’s son, Hee-jun, secretary general of Yeongsan Christian Culture Center sold the church 250,000 shares of stock in I-Service at $80.06 US per share while the market price was only $22.12 US per share. - Source: Christian Post

Prosecutors identified Dr. Cho as being an accomplice to the crime of breach of truth, claiming that Dr. Cho used the church money to help his son recover from losses he suffered in stock investments. Prosecutors also acquired evidence during the investigation that Dr. Cho had evaded $3.3 million US.

Dr. David Yong-gi Cho said the small group of church elders who accused him were just attempting to smear his good name. The pastor denies all allegations. “The truth will reveal itself during the prosecutor's investigation. Those who filed the complaint will have to take responsibility accordingly.” said Cho. - Source: C3ChurchWatch.Com

According to the Yonghap News, the judge believes that Dr. Cho deserves a much more severe punishment, but due to Cho’s long term contributions to society, he decided to give the 78-year-old a lighter suspended sentence of a three-year prison term with five years probation and also ordered him to pay $4.7 million US as a penalty. - Yonhap News Association

Cho’s son, Hee-jun, however, was sentenced to a non-suspended three-years in prison sentence for being the main offender and for trying to evade charges and place all blame on the church for his financial loss.

Yoido Full Gospel Church, founded in 1958 and it now claims more than 450,000 followers in-house, however with their international reach, the church boasts over a million in their congregation, with Dr. Yong-gi Cho as the leader. Yoido Full Gospel Church is associated with the Assemblies of God.

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