Korea Rotary Club worker embezzled 3.5 billion won

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Korea Rotary Club worker embezzled 3.5 billion won

A senior member of the Korea Rotary Club, surnamed Kim, embezzled 3.5 billion won ($3.2 million) from the club’s scholarship fund due to a grudge he harbored when he failed to get promoted after 16 years in service.

The Bucheon’s Wonmi Police Precinct in Gyeonggi said yesterday it detained the 52-year-old veteran rotary member and employee along with four accomplices.

The suspect told the police during questioning he carried out the crime after his raise was lower than that of other colleagues and he didn’t get promoted.

Kim, director of the Rotary’s scholarship program team with access to bank accounts, shared his embezzlement plan with Choi, the owner of an English hagwon, or private academy, who later drew three other private moneylenders into their scheme.

Kim withdrew seven checks each worth 500 million won for a total of 3.5 billion won and deposited them in the bank accounts of the private lenders.

The five accomplices then cashed the 3.5 billion won deposits over a three-day period in January of this year by visiting 22 different banks in Seoul.

Choi received 1.7 billion won while the three lenders got 1 billion won and Kim received 700 million won.

Flush with cash, the school owner moved into an upscale apartment in Seocho District, southern Seoul, with a monthly rental of 3 million won and leased a BMW 5-Series car for 3 million won a month.

It didn’t take long for their joint crime to be uncovered. Kim kept going to his job as if he had done nothing wrong for about a month. But soon he was questioned by his co-workers over the illegal act.

When it was clear to his colleagues he stole the funds, Kim went into hiding, moving from place to place throughout the country.

Kim terminated his cell phone service and stopped using credit cards to leave no trace. When contacting his accomplices, he used a public phone in public areas.

The police said they finally busted Kim hiding in Choi’s house on Nov. 15. Choi was arrested the following day.

“The amount of funds embezzled by the five culprits could have been used to financially assist around 4,000 students a year,” said the police.

A backlash from the scandal is expected to hit the Korea Rotary Club, established in 1973, as it has over 60,000 members making donations to humanitarian causes.

The humanitarian organization in Seoul provides around 7 billion won to 8,000 students under its scholarship programs every year.

By Yoo Gil-yong, Kang Jin-kyu [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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