Prosecution seeks life imprisonment for Optimus CEO in fund scam case

SEOUL-- The prosecution sought a life sentence on Tuesday for the CEO of Optimus Asset Management, who is at the center of a massive financial fraud.

At the sentencing hearing at the Seoul Central District Court, prosecutors demanded Kim Jae-hyun, head of the scandal-ridden private equity investment firm, be put behind bars for the rest of his life on charges of fraud and embezzlement.

They also asked the court to assess him a fine of 4.057 trillion won (US$3.6 billion) and a forfeiture of 1.43 trillion won.

They demanded a prison term of 25 years for Lee Dong-yeol, the company's second-largest shareholder, and 20 years for Yoon Seok-ho, an executive at the company, on the same charges.

The Optimus scandal centers on allegations that the private equity company solicited funds worth about 1.2 trillion won from thousands of people from April 2018 to June 2020 for investments in public institutions, but actually funneled most of the money into risky assets, causing huge losses to the investors.

The prosecution said it is hard to understand how it was possible for the defendant to commit such a massive fraud against the public.

"The defendants systemically organized the crime and incurred huge losses (for investors), but they've only focused on passing on their responsibility to others and have not made any effort to minimize investors' losses," the prosecution said.

During his final statement at the hearing, Kim apologized to investors who have suffered losses, but also claimed that the prosecution has probed the case with a biased perspective.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for July 20.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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