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Comedian-turned-director slapped with exit ban over embezzlement charges

Disgraced comedian-turned-director Shim Hyung-rae has been banned from leaving the country in connection with suspicions that he embezzled huge company funds, police said Monday.

Police have recently launched an internal probe into suspicions that Shim, chairman of the movie production company Younggu Art, misappropriated 4.1 billion won (US$3.7 million) of company funds for private purposes, for three years from 2008.

Police were also looking into allegations that he threatened investors who were demanding a refund for their investment in one of his movies by firing an illegally remodeled gas spray gun before them, in October 2009.

Another focus of the police probe was whether any senior officials received bribes or lavish treats from Shim in return for helping him get 4.2 billion won from government coffers for the production of his latest film, "The Last Godfather," between 2008 and 2009, the police said.

Once called a great master of slapstick comedy with his trademark persona, a fool named "Young-gu," the 53-year-old entertainer had made commercial successes as a director of his first sci-fi monster picture, "Yonggari (1998)," and his second monster picture, the CGI-heavy "D-War (2007)."

But Shim and his company allegedly fell quickly into a trap of debts following the failure of his latest Hollywood-targeted film, "The Last Godfather (2010)."

Police plan to decide whether to book him based on the result of the probe.

Last week, former employees sued the company, demanding it pay 890 million won in unpaid wages and retirement allowances. (Yonhap News)


경찰, '횡령 의혹' 심형래 출국금지

서울지방경찰청 경제범죄수사대는 회사 돈 수십 억원을 횡령한 의혹과 관련해 심형래(53) 영구아트 대표를 최근 출국금지했다고  31 일 밝혔다.

경찰은 심씨가 2008년부터 3년간 회삿돈 41억원을 개인적 용도로 사용했다는 첩 보에 대해 내사를 벌이고 있다.

경찰은 심씨가 2009년 10월 투자금 반환을 요구하는 투자자에게 불법 개조한 가 스총을 발사, 위협한 적이 있는지 등 의혹 내용을 확인중이다.

경찰은 2008~2009년 영화 '라스트 갓파더' 제작에 국비 42억원이 지원되는 과정 에서 한국무역보험공사, 한국콘텐츠진흥원 등 공공기관 간부들의 배임 행위가  있었 는지를 집중 내사하고 있다.

경찰은 내사 결과를 토대로 심씨에 대한 소환 및 입건 여부를 결정할 방침이다.

서울남부지검은 영구아트 전 직원 43명의 임금과 퇴직금 등 8억9천100만원을 체불한 혐의(근로기준법 위반)로 심씨를 조사하고 있다.

직원들은 이미 심씨를 대상으로 임금 청구 소송을 제기했으며 심씨 소유의 도곡 동 타워팰리스, 압구정 현대아파트, 오곡동 영구아트 본사 건물과 토지 등이 경매에 부쳐졌다.