The chief of a debt-ridden savings bank was caught trying to sneak out of the country in an attempt to avoid investigation and possible punishment over alleged irregularities at the financial institution, officials said Sunday.
Kim Chan-kyong, chairman of Mirae Savings Bank, was detained at the port of Gungpyeong on the west coast, about 55 kilometers southwest of Seoul, at around 8:30 p.m. on Thursday while attempting to leave for China by boat, Coast Guard officials said.
Four accomplices were also detained, and arrest warrants were sought for them, officials said.
Coast Guard officials acted on tips that a top savings bank official was planning to smuggle himself out of the country, and tracked the mobile phone of an accomplice to locate their whereabouts, officials said.
The group had planned to move to open seas on a fishing boat and then transfer to a cargo ship headed to China. When busted, the savings bank chief was wearing casual clothes and sneakers, and was carrying cash and his passport, officials said.
"Chairman Kim appears to have attempted to flee to China due to pressure from the investigation," an official said.
Prosecutors had banned Kim from leaving the country pending an investigation into alleged irregularities at the savings bank. His bank was one of the four debt-laden savings banks whose operations were suspended on Sunday for failing to meet the capital adequacy ratios recommended by the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) standards.
The Coast Guard handed Kim over to prosecutors on Saturday, official said. (Yonhap)