Dulwich College officials indicted on embezzlement claim

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Dulwich College officials indicted on embezzlement claim

Three suspects linked to a London-based international school in the affluent neighborhood of Seocho District, southern Seoul, have been indicted on charges of embezzling more than 7 billion won ($6 million) in tuition fees from the school.

The prosecution’s announcement Tuesday comes about four months since Dulwich College Seoul was raided over suspicions of embezzlement. A team of investigators at the time confiscated account books and other documents from the school’s premises.

Authorities believed the school used a shell company to siphon some of its revenue from tuition payments overseas, a suspicion that continued to grow as prosecutors found more clues in their investigation.

Prosecutors also discovered that the suspects violated Korea’s Private School Act by establishing the school through a for-profit company. Under domestic law, only a foreigner, a foreign nonprofit organization or an educational institution can found an international school here.

The school’s chief admissions officer, a 48-year-old woman identified only by her surname, Lee, and her husband, 50, Geum, currently face charges of embezzlement and violating Korea’s Private School Act.

The couple wrote on official documents that the school was run by a nonprofit company they established in Hong Kong, though prosecutors believe it is a paper company and that the school is actually run by a for-profit company on the Cayman Islands, one of the world’s biggest tax havens.

The chief financial officer for the for-profit company, a Singaporean, was also indicted on the same charges, though the charges against the CEO, 55, a Swiss national, were suspended after he refused to come to Korea for questioning.

Prosecutors claim the three used student tuition to pay off the loan taken out for the school’s construction, in clear violation of domestic laws that state that a school’s founder must cover the full cost, adding that they siphoned off at least 7.2 billion won.

They are also believed to have been preparing to stash away at least 6 percent of the school’s annual tuition fees to transfer to their company on the Cayman Islands. Prosecutors also assert that the suspects misused a fund valued at 160 million won from the Seocho District intended to construct a public parking lot.

Opened in 2010, Dulwich College Seoul accommodates more than 600 students from 2 to 18 years old. Yearly tuition averages 30 million won.

BY LEE SUNG-EUN [lee.sungeun@joongang.co.kr]

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