Court issues arrest warrant for cosmetic company executive in Optimus fraud scandal
SEOUL, A Seoul court on Monday approved pre-trial detention of a cosmetic company executive suspected of embezzling funds to participate in large-scale fraud by the scandal-ridden private equity investment firm Optimus Asset Management.
The Seoul Central District Court issued the warrant to detain the director of cosmetic company Skin N Skin Co., identified only as 51-year-old surnamed Lee, on embezzlement charges. This is the first arrest warrant issued since the relevant investigation started in earnest.
“The charges are justified and the amount of losses is great,” Judge Kim Dong-hyun said, noting that the case is serious and that Lee poses a flight risk.
The company’s 53-year-old chairman and Lee’s brother was also indicted on the same charges, but no warrant was issued as he didn’t show up for an arrest warrant hearing earlier Monday.
The judge said that the older brother will be called in for questioning as soon as he is in custody.
The brothers are accused of withdrawing 15 billion won (US$13.13 million) from company funds in June on the grounds that the money would be used for a dental mask distribution business. At that time, facial masks were in short supply nationwide amid the spread of the coronavirus outbreak.
But the money was instead funneled into an affiliate of Optimus Asset Management, named EP Plus, to be used for the private equity firm to cope with massive withdrawals from its funds.
The Optimus scandal centers on allegations that the private equity company solicited funds worth about 1.2 trillion won from about 2,900 investors for investments in public institutions but actually funneled most of the money into risky assets, causing huge losses to the investors. In June, Optimus suspended withdrawals from its funds.
Source: Yonhap News Agency