Embezzler gets new face, goes on Gangnam binge

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Embezzler gets new face, goes on Gangnam binge

ASAN, South Chungcheong - An accountant who embezzled billions of won and had plastic surgery to evade the police was caught after blowing lots of the money on luxury goods and room salon hostesses.

At the beginning of January, a 33-year-old financial accounting department chief surnamed Yoon at an Asan, South Chungcheong-based semiconductor manufacturing company gave the junior staff who managed the company’s bank accounts with him a surprise vacation.

Then, at around 9 a.m. on Jan. 4, a few days after he sent his colleagues on vacation, he wired 200 million won ($184,225) of company money to his accounts through Internet banking.

Over the next five days, he transferred a total of 4.7 billion won of company funds to five separate bank accounts that two accomplices provided in advance.

Before he completed his last transfer, he told one of his coworkers that he will be temporarily out of the office because his father is in critical condition.

Instead of going to Mokpo, South Jeolla, where his father lives, he went to Gangnam, southern Seoul, and withdrew 3.36 billion won worth of cash from 10 different banks in Gangnam.

He then purchased a luxury Mercedes-Benz sedan, worth about 180 million won ($165,707) in Korea, and filled it with bags of cash and headed to Gwangju.

He went to Gwangju to get a new face so no one would recognize him.

Spending 5 million won, he had plastic surgery on his eyes, nose and forehead, becoming an attractive man that hostesses in room salons (hostess bar) would like.

The next destinations for the man with a new face and armed with lots of Shin Saimdangs (an accomplished scholar and artist from the Joseon era whose calm visage is emblazoned on the 50,000 won note) were of course room salons and department stores.

With his two accomplices, identified with their surnames Shin, 33, and Choi, 44, who helped him purchase the car and cell phone under a borrowed name, he became one of the best customers in room salons in the Gangnam area as his money flew from his pockets.

He spent about 600 million won in room salons and on designer goods, according to the Asan Police Precinct in South Chungcheong, which is investigating the case.

But the Gangnam lifestyle didn’t last long.

The police arrested the two accomplices at a hideout in Gwangju after they found that the bank accounts the suspect used belonged to one of them, by tracing the bank records.

They gave up their hideout near Yoon’s hometown, Mokpo, and the suspect was eventually arrested by the police after staking out the hideout at 3 a.m. on Wednesday.

The police said Yoon buried 1.6 billion won of the money on a mountain near his parent’s house and kept the rest in his hideout. The police retrieved all of the money, except the money he blew at the room salons.

“His face is completely changed,” a spokesman of the Asan police said. “He calmly admitted to everything.”

By Seo Hyung-sik, Kwon Sang-soo [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]
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