A district court denied an arrest warrant late Wednesday night for a former chief of local telecom giant KT Corp. suspected of committing a host of corporate crimes, including embezzlement.
The Seoul Central District Court dismissed the prosecution's request for the warrant to detain Lee Suk-chae, the former head of the country's top fixed-line operator and No. 2 mobile carrier, for further questioning.
"There is not enough reason to detain (Lee) at the present stage considering that his crimes have not yet been ascertained enough," Judge Kim Woo-soo said in his decision.
State prosecutors suspect that Lee sold 39 office buildings belonging to the company at below-market prices, causing financial losses to the firm before stepping down from his post in November.
The 69-year-old is also under suspicion of stashing several billion won in secret funds by inflating salary figures paid to company executives, prosecutors said.
The probe was launched after local civic groups filed charges of dereliction of duty against Lee with the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office in February and again in October.
Lee, a close aide to former President Lee Myung-bak, took the helm of the mobile carrier in 2009. He also served as a telecommunications minister in 1995 under the Kim Young-sam administration. (Yonhap News)