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Prosecutors detain CNK head for stock manipulation

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Published : 2014-03-23 20:46
Updated : 2014-03-23 20:46

Prosecutors on Sunday detained Oh Deok-gyun, head of CNK International, who has been allegedly hiding out for two years after being suspected of manipulating the stock price of his company.

Investigators took the suspect into custody immediately after his arrival at Incheon International Airport early in the morning and transferred him to the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office in Seoul, officials said.

The prosecution is reportedly planning to request an arrest warrant for Oh on Monday and process charges against him, according to the officials.

Oh is alleged to have illegally obtained about 90 billion won ($83 million) by inflating stock prices after releasing an overstated report regarding a diamond mine in Africa. CNK acquired the mining rights in 2010.

In 2012, Oh left for Cameroon, where the mine is located, before the prosecution started investigating the case.

The probe into the company’s stock-rigging scandal began after the Securities and Futures Commission filed a complaint against Oh in January 2012 for his fraudulent activities.

The commission claimed that Oh spread false information about the volume of diamond reserves in the Cameroon mining project.

The prosecution launched an investigation into suspect but failed to summon him for the last two years.

Prosecutors requested that Interpol file a Red Notice in March 2012 and asked the Cameroon government for criminal extradition. But Oh said through his lawyer on March 13 this year that he would turn himself in.

“I did my best to save the mine (project),” Oh told reporters waiting at the prosecutors’ office.

His company defended the accusations against him, claiming his innocence.

“As soon as he ended a joint project with a Chinese conglomerate, Oh voluntarily decided to come back to clear up any misunderstandings against him and fully cooperate with the investigation,” CNK told local media ahead of his arrival.

The alleged stock price rigging case has drawn attention over the last two years as it involved senior government officials including former Energy and Resources Ambassador Kim Eun-seok, who was arrested for ordering the press release in question to be distributed.

Kim, along with seven other individuals linked to the case, is currently on trial.

Other former government officials who were linked to the case include Park Young-joon and Cho Joong-pyo.

Park is former vice minister of the now-defunct Ministry of Knowledge Economy and a close associate of former President Lee Myung-bak, while Cho served as the chief of the Prime Minister’s Office. 

By Suk Gee-hyun (monicasuk@heraldcorp.com)

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