A New Zealand charity may lose its government-recognized status because it served as a passthrough organization for payments made by a Korean government-backed bank to the family of women's world No. 1 Lydia Ko.
The Korean Society of Auckland has been issued a warning notice by the country's Internal Affairs department, charging it with filtering over NZD 100,000 from the Korean Development Bank to support the Kiwi and her family in 2012 and '13, according to the NZ Herald. The Korean Society, under the guidance of president Sung Hyuk Kim and past president Young Pyo Hong, agreed to serve as a middleman between Ko's family and the bank, which feared public backlash because it would be supporting Ko, who isn't a Korean citizen.
"Due to their concerns, both the KDB and Lydia Ko's parents asked for the assistance of the society to facilitate the passing of money between them as they believed the society had the trust and confidence of the New Zealand and Korean public," reads the formal warning notice, delivered March 3. "These discussions established a way of transferring the funds from KDB to Lydia Ko's parents without the payments becoming public knowledge."
The money was filtered in two separate instances. The first transaction was on Sept. 25, 2012, when over NZD 50,000 was transferred to the Korean Society's bank account. A day later, the money was transferred to the bank account of Ko's mother, Bangsuk Hyon. A similar pair of transactions unfolded on March 28-29, 2013. The transactions to Hyon's bank accounts were authorized by Kim and Hong.
Through her agent Michael Yim, Ko and her family distanced themselves from the Korean Society.
"From our perspective and Ko's understanding, this was a proper funding donated by KDB Foundation to Lydia's parents through the Korean Society as part of KDB Foundation's programm to support top global talents whose family were faced with financial difficulties as was the case with Lydia's family," read the statement emailed to the Herald.
"How KDB or the Korean Society leaders chose to handle things internally within their organisations is unbeknownst to the Ko family and something which they have no influence over."
The Korean Society has until March 31 to provide a thorough response to the warning notice.