‘Young Warren Buffet’ hit with fraud charge

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‘Young Warren Buffet’ hit with fraud charge

Park Chul-sang was once renowned as a young investment genius. The former student at Kyungpook National University in Daegu bragged of acquiring a fortune of 40 billion won ($35.7 million) in the stock market.

On Sunday, the police charged Park with fraud for donating money he borrowed to his alma mater and never paying it back. According to the Daegu Metropolitan Police Agency, Park, who is in his early 30s, was accused of borrowing 1.4 billion won in 2016 and not paying it back.

Park promised he will “give 30 percent of the gains on investment” to the person he borrowed the money from, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Park testified to the police that, “the money was borrowed with good intentions.”

“I wanted to help college students by providing scholarships and [donating to] charity. I had a strong will to pay back but couldn’t, and I apologize to everyone who I’ve let down,” he added.

Park became known as the “young Warren Buffett” back in January 2013, when he first donated 100 million won to his school. The story of an ordinary student donating a fortune to his university propelled him to prominence.

In 2015 February, he made another donation of 450 million won to his school. After starting college, Park said he earned 10 million won from tutoring and eventually made a fortune after just 10 years of investing in stocks. The media praised him as a “true miracle” when he decided to donate his money to colleges other than Kyungpook University and give money to charity.

In July 2015, he became the first college student ever to become a member of the Community Chest of Korea’s honor society, which consists of philanthropists who have donated over 100 million won. In 2016, Forbes Magazine listed Park on its list of “Asia’s 2016 Heroes of Philanthropy.” The Ulsan Metropolitan Office of Education also invited him to give a lecture about investing and charity.

Park had a golden reputation until one stock expert raised doubts about the origins of Park’s money, saying it was “impossible to earn tens of billions of won in just 10 years.”

At first, Park stated that this was a false accusation, saying that “the money was acquired purely through stock investments.”

However, after several investigations by the police, he admitted that the money he had earned from his investments was actually “less than 1.4 billion won.”

Park has been silent since the accusations. He hasn’t attended his scheduled lectures or made any donations, and dropped out of Kyungpook National University.

“We are currently conducting an additional investigation after Park testified that there are others who have come up and provided money to him, telling him to invest some more,” said a source from the Daegu police.

BY LEE HAE-SUN [lee.haesun@joongang.co.kr]
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