South Korean prosecutors brought charges Tuesday against five former executives of Olympus Korea for their alleged role in misappropriating about 10 billion won ($9.6 million) of company money.
The five suspects, including former Olympus Korea head Bang Il-seok, are accused of illegally embezzling company funds for personal use and fabricating sales records from 2005-2012.
Prosecutors said that Bang, who was fired by the Japanese firm in 2012 over the incident, is believed to have pulled the strings behind the officials’ embezzlement schemes.
According to the prosecution, Bang allegedly exaggerated the construction budget when the Korean branch built Olympus Tower in Gangnam, Seoul, in 2007.
In the process, Bang had ordered an executive director and an official from its general affairs division to siphon off 2.7 billion won, of which 1.5 billion was used by Bang to buy real estate and 1.2 billion was shared by the other two officials.
The former head of Olympus Korea is suspected of engaging in another illegal transaction in 2011 when he handed 520 million won to a close colleague surnamed Choi as a retirement bonus.
The prosecution said Bang also misappropriated about 280 million won from expenses for printing promotional materials.
Prosecution officials noted that Bang is also charged with fabricating its sales records from March 2008 to June 2012, using borrowed-name accounts.
Separately, two more executives are suspected of pocketing 6.1 billion won through similar practices, the prosecution said.
Prosecutors cleared Olympus’ Korean operation of tax evasion, concluding that it was the victim of the suspects’ crimes and that it had paid off the outstanding corporate tax.
By Suk Gee-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)