Third banker to commit suicide before inquest

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Third banker to commit suicide before inquest

The chairman of a savings bank that was under investigation for corruption killed himself after being summoned by prosecutors.

According to the joint investigation team of the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, the chairman of Ace Mutual Savings Bank Kim Hak-heon, 57, was found dead in a hotel room of the Palace Hotel in Banpo-dong, southern Seoul at 9:30 a.m., yesterday. Kim was sent to St. Mary’s Hospital in Seoul immediately but couldn’t be revived.

The prosecutors said Kim checked into the hotel on Monday afternoon and was supposed to meet an acquaintance yesterday morning at 9:00 a.m. in the hotel lobby, but didn’t show up. His acquaintance, unidentified, asked hotel staff to check his room as Kim wasn’t responding to phone calls.

The Seocho Police Precinct, which responded to the initial call from the hotel, reported that Kim died from an overdose of sleeping pills and found a suicide note in the room. Kim was scheduled to appear at the prosecutors’ office in Seocho-dong for investigation yesterday.

“Kim delayed appearing at the prosecutors’ office three times for family reasons since November,” a prosecutor of the joint investigation said. “We respectfully express our condolence to Kim’s family.”

The Ace bank has been suspended since September and has been investigated by prosecutors for suspicions of illegal lending. The bank, the prosecutors said, had disbursed 690 billion won ($595.4 million) in construction project loans.

Kim is the third person to commit suicide since the prosecution formed the joint investigation team in September. Jeong Gu-haeng, 50, the chairman of Jeil II Savings Bank jumped off his headquarters office in Changsin-dong, central Seoul while prosecutors were inside confiscating possible evidence for their investigation. In November, a high-ranking official of the Tomato II Savings Bank surnamed Cha, 49, hanged himself in an empty building in Gwangju, Gyeonggi.

“I don’t understand why Kim killed himself because he wasn’t accused by the Financial Supervisory Service and he was only going to be interrogated today,” the prosecutor said.


By Lee Dong-hyun, Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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