A key figure in a high-profile embezzlement case of the jailed chairman of one of the country’s largest conglomerates, SK Group, was extradited to South Korea on Thursday, a justice ministry official said.
Kim Won-hong, who has been accused by SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won of being the main culprit behind the massive embezzlement scheme, arrived from Taiwan around 8:20 p.m. and was taken into custody, the official said.
Kim’s extradition is expected to greatly influence a sentencing trial of Chey, which is scheduled for Friday.
Chey, the 53-year-old tycoon who inherited the country’s third-largest conglomerate from his father, is currently undergoing appeals after being sentenced to four years behind bars by a lower court in January.
He is accused of embezzling nearly 50 billion won (US$45 million) in company funds to make personal investments in stock futures and options with the help of his younger brother, who is a senior vice chairman of the group.
During the appeals trial, Chey claimed that it was Kim who pocketed the massive amount of conglomerate funds. Kim allegedly managed nearly 600 billion won transferred from Chey.
Kim, a former adviser to SK Shipping Co., fled to China in 2011 before a probe into the SK slush fund scandal began and then to Taiwan, state prosecutors said.
Kim, after being sought by Interpol, was arrested by Taiwanese law enforcement authorities in August for violating immigration laws, they said. Seoul’s law enforcement authorities have since been discussing ways to repatriate Kim, as South Korea does not have an extradition treaty with Taiwan.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office said it will continue with questioning Kim and will soon seek a detention warrant for him.