30-year trail of misdeeds tracked

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30-year trail of misdeeds tracked

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Kim Chan-kyong

Prosecutors investigating the latest savings banks scandal said yesterday that Kim Chan-kyong, the 56-year-old chairman of Mirae Savings Bank - one of the four banks shut down Sunday for insolvency and alleged financial irregularities - allegedly misappropriated nearly 200 billion won ($176 million) in company funds.

According to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office’s central investigation unit, which launched its third probe into the country’s troubled savings banks two days ago, evidence was obtained that Kim borrowed more than 100 billion won from his bank using somebody else’s name and spent a considerable amount on himself.

Kim was caught last Thursday at a port in Gungpyeong in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi, trying to flee to China after withdrawing 20 billion won from the bank.

He is also accused of selling at giveaway prices 27 billion won worth of large companies’ shares his bank possessed.

“Kim embezzled more than 100 billion won and also created more than 20 billion won in slush funds,” said an official from the prosecutors’ office.

Prosecutors expect the amounts allegedly filched by Kim to grow after he is arrested.

Kim is also accused of borrowing 150 billion won in illegal loans using a third party’s name to buy a golf resort in Asan, South Chungcheong, also under an alias.

Prosecutors are also investigating allegations by the local media that 5.6 billion won in Kim’s slush funds may have been stolen by one of his close friends.

According to local police, Kim and his friend loaded 10 boxes of cash worth 5.6 billion won into a passenger van last month and drove out of the capital.

They allegedly stopped to rest at a lodging facility and while Kim was asleep, his friend broke the windows of the van and ran off with the cash.

Yesterday, Kim did not show up for questioning at the Seoul Central District Court, where it was to be decided if he’d be arrested.

However, Kim did respond to all the news about him through his attorney yesterday. He delivered a message that said his “family is in pain about the money.”

A public uproar has risen about Kim’s past.

Thirty years ago, Kim claimed to have been a law major at Seoul National University when in fact he was only a graduate of middle school. He attended law classes at SNU and married his wife while posing as an SNU graduate.

Furthermore, Kim’s son was reported as having crashed into six cars last June after drinking and driving a Mercedes. He was caught by the police on site. According to witnesses, Kim’s son shouted at them, “Do you know who my father is?”

“Members of his family are enduring unbearable pain,” Kim was quoted as saying by his attorney yesterday at the prosecutors’ office.

The attorney added, “Kim’s wife has already forgiven him for deceiving her 30 years ago and it is just too much for her to bear this, to raise this issue now at this point.”

Responding to Kim’s indirect claims, a lawyer said under condition of anonymity, “It’s a shame that Kim is showing no repentance at all even though he caused so much trouble.”

Meantime, prosecutors also raided 10 additional locations yesterday including Mirae Savings Bank’s Jeju headquarters and also an office of Hanju Savings Bank, which is also one of the four banks whose operations have been halted.

By Park Jin-seok, Lee Eun-joo [angie@joongang.co.kr]

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