Police pursue suspect in killing of wealthy man

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Police pursue suspect in killing of wealthy man

The police said yesterday that they are pursuing a suspect who allegedly killed a 67-year-old man known to have owned assets worth hundreds of billions of won, adding that they had acquired video footage captured by a CCTV camera in the office building where the victim was murdered that shows the suspect’s face.

According to a police statement earlier this week, the victim, surnamed Song, was stabbed dozens of times all over his body. He was discovered by his wife after she came to the building to look for him when he didn’t return home at his usual time.

The video clip shows the masked suspect following the victim into the building, which Song owned and managed, where the two men had a physical altercation, a police officer said. During the scuffle, the suspect apparently took off his mask.

Song reportedly owned the building in which his body was found, in addition to a 20-story hotel, a wedding hall and multi-household housing. He is also the president of a real estate brokerage firm.

Authorities said the victim previously managed properties for a distant relative, a Korean-Japanese man surnamed Lee. With money earned in Japan, Lee bought a 9,900-square-meter (2.4-acre) property and three buildings in Jongno and Gangseo districts, in central and western parts of Seoul, respectively. He founded the brokerage firm in 1997.

Since 1995, Song had been managing Lee’s properties and assets in Korea.

When Lee died in 2002, Song appropriated the firm’s stamp, forging a contract that approved the sale of Lee’s assets - worth about 100 billion won ($93 million) - for just 2 billion won to himself.

Shortly after, Song was investigated on allegations of fraud and forgery after the prosecution was notified by Lee’s tenants. During the probe, Lee’s children testified that they had never granted the rights to sell their father’s assets to him.

The legal dispute played out for more than a decade, and Song was eventually acquitted of the fraud charges. He was sentenced to eight months in prison with two years probation after being found guilty of forgery.

“When I heard the ruling, my blood boiled,” a plaintiff in the case said of the verdict.

Authorities are currently trying to find the suspect caught on tape. They believe Song may have been killed by someone who held a grudge against him, particularly in light of the legal dispute over assets he attained from Lee.

BY CHAE SEUNG-GI [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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