Updated : 2015-04-09 18:46
Ex-Keangnam chief found dead
Probe into energy projects expected to hit wall
By Lee Kyung-min
Former Keangnam Enterprises Chairman Sung Woan-jong was found dead on Mt. Bukhan in an apparent suicide, Thursday. He has been at the center of an investigation into the failed “energy diplomacy” of the previous Lee Myung-bak administration.A police search dog discovered his body hanging from a tree near Jeongto Temple on Mt. Bukhan in northern Seoul, where his cell-phone signal was last captured, according to police.
Earlier in the day, a massive manhunt began after receiving a report from his son that he disappeared after leaving a suicide note at his home.
Sung’s son, who visited him at 8:10 a.m. called the police after discovering the note.
The contents of it remain unknown as he refused to surrender it.
Surveillance camera footage showed Sung leaving his house in Gangnam, southern Seoul, at 5:10 a.m. He wore a bomber jacket and a baseball cap.
He was scheduled to appear in court where a judge would decide on whether to approve an arrest warrant for him.
The prosecution said Song, a former lawmaker and close aide to Lee allegedly peddled influence to receive 80 billion won ($74 billion) in loans from the government and financial institutions for overseas resources development projects by fabricating his company’s financial status from 2006 to 2013.
He allegedly embezzled 25 billion won from the fund and was engaged in fraudulent accounting to the tune of 950 billion won.
On Thursday, Sung held a press conference and denied all the allegations against him.
“There were 86 companies that participated in the projects at the time. And I don’t understand why Keangnam is being singled out,” he said.
“Embezzling the money was impossible because we had to use company funds first and receive reimbursement from the government later. The allegations that the money was spent elsewhere before the reimbursement simply does not make sense,” he added.
Last month, the prosecution raided his home and offices at Keangnam.
Later, his wife and the company’s vice president, surnamed Han, were questioned over their roles in the alleged crimes.
Reportedly, prosecutors have already secured Han’s testimony that Sung ordered him to create the slush fund via Keangnam’s affiliates.
The probe into Keangnam was part of the prosecution’s widening investigation into major companies for “failed energy diplomacy” during Lee Myung-bak administration.
Steel giant POSCO, Dongkuk Steel and the state-run Korea National Oil Corp. are also under investigation.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday Seoul Central District Court approved a rehabilitation plan for Keangnam and its two affiliates including Keangnam Investment after they were declared insolvent last year.
Due to their insolvency, a total of 400 billion won in financial damages were incurred ― 100 billion won for financial institutions and 300 billion won for its contractors.
Former Doosan Engine President Lee Sung-hee was named as the court-appointed arbitrator, the court said.