Lee Joong-keun, chairman of South Korea’s mid-sized building conglomerate Booyoung Group, has been arrested on Wednesday on charges of embezzlement and tax evasion among other crimes.
A Seoul Central District Court endorsed pretrial arrest warrant for the 77-year-old founder of the group with 24 affiliates of which none are publicly trading by agreeing the prosecutors’ concerns for destruction of evidence.
Lee who practically single-handedly runs the country’s 18th largest conglomerate with 93.8 percent stake in Booyoung and entire stake in Booyoung Housing is suspected to have pocketed more than 1 trillion won ($922 million) worth of illicit gains by tampering with prices of state-budgeted public rental apartments. He has allegedly profiteered 10 billion won worth of funds by assigning work to an affiliate owned by his wife and incurred 100 billion won worth of losses by paying payrolls to relatives that exist as senior executives only in paper.
Lee’s arrest could stall and even shake Booyoung that has been expanding rapidly in recent years. He has denied most of the allegations when he was called in by prosecutors twice for questioning last week.
By Chu Dong-hun and Lee Eun-joo
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