Cash linked to slaying of fraudster’s parents

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Cash linked to slaying of fraudster’s parents

Police have found evidence that the suspect in the murder of the parents of Lee Hee-jin, a famed stock fraudster, may have hunted them down after finding out that they received 500 million won ($443,748) from Lee’s brother.

Police believe the suspect, a 34-year-old man surnamed Kim, may have planned the murder after finding out that Lee’s younger brother, Lee Hee-moon, had sold his supercar and given some of the cash to his parents. Lee’s parents allegedly owed Kim money.

Lee’s parents were killed on Feb. 25. That was the date that Lee Hee-moon sold his Bugatti Veyron for 2 billion won on a used car market and gave 500 million won to his parents in cash, police said.

“I did not know about the sale,” Kim told police.

But some observers of the used car market told the JoongAng Ilbo that the sale was no secret.

“There aren’t many places in Korea where you can sell a supercar like Bugatti Veyron,” a used-car trader told the paper. “The market is small and there are many eyes on supercars.”

According to the source, there were rumors circulating among traders that a Bugatti Veyron would soon be available for sale after Lee Hee-moon was released from detention last November.

Lee Hee-jin and Lee Hee-moon were both sentenced to jail in April last year for fraud and illegal stock trading. The Lee brothers ran an unauthorized investment company and shared false information with investors to rake in profits illegally. Lee Hee-jin was sentenced to five years in prison with 20 billion won in fines. His brother received two and a half years in prison.

While their appeal trial was ongoing, Lee Hee-moon’s detention warrant expired in last November. He was released and was able to engage in activities, such as selling his car.

The police are still investigating why he gave the 500 million won to his parents.

Lee’s parents came home to their apartment in Anyang, Gyeonggi, around 4:06 p.m. on Feb. 25, according to CCTV camera footage from the apartment complex. Kim and three other men, believed to be Kim’s accomplices and who are currently on the run, had entered the apartment complex 15 minutes earlier. The three accomplices left the complex at around 10 p.m. and Kim is seen leaving at around 10 a.m. the next morning.

Yet the parents’ bodies were only discovered over the past weekend after Lee Hee-moon, realizing he hadn’t heard from his parents, reported to police on Saturday that they might have gone missing. Lee reportedly told police that he did not regularly check on his parents in person.

After finding the body of Lee’s mother at their apartment in Anyang, Gyeonggi, on Saturday, police used the CCTV camera footage to track down Kim and arrested him Sunday. Using Kim’s testimony, police found Lee’s father’s corpse in a refrigerator in a warehouse in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi, on Sunday.

Authorities found an additional trace that suggests how Kim may have planned the murder.

After allegedly murdering Lee’s mother, Kim sent Lee Hee-moon text messages pretending to be her.

“Go meet this businessman that I know well,” reads one of the texts Kim sent Lee using Lee’s mother’s phone after Feb. 25.

Lee met with Kim earlier this month at a restaurant, police found. They are investigating what they talked about.

The court issued a detention warrant for Kim on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Kim’s mother handed 250 million won of the money Kim took from Lee’s parents’ apartment to the police. Kim’s mother told authorities it was money her son gave her to “hold onto” for him, but she said she decided to hand it over after speaking with a lawyer.

Police are investigating the whereabouts of the rest of the money, part of which Kim said is with his accomplices, according to the police.

Police are tracking down Kim’s three accomplices, including a 32-year-old man surnamed Park. All three are ethnic Koreans from China who left the country on a plane to Qingdao on Feb. 25. Police have arrest warrants for the three and said they are planning to request that Interpol put out a Red Notice alert for them, which notifies police across the world.

BY CHOI MO-RAN, KIM MIN-WOOK AND ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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