The nation’s financial watchdog said Tuesday that dozens of high-profile people made illicit foreign exchange transactions amounting to a combined 130 billion won ($120 million) last year.
The list of its findings included Hur Nam-kack, chairman of GS-affiliated trading group Samyang Tongsang; Shin Jung-hee, CEO of Donghwa Duty Free Shop; SM Entertainment chairman Lee Soo-man and actress Han Ye-seul.
The Financial Supervisory Service revealed the illegal transactions after a six-month investigation into people who own real estate overseas.
FSS officials said 44 people were found to have violated the foreign currency-related law by failing to report their asset acquisition to relevant authorities.
The officials said the FSS would bring Hur Nam-kack and Lee Soo-man to the prosecution for further investigation into their wrongdoings.
According to the foreign exchange trading law, those who make capital transactions in foreign currency must report the contents and the amount to financial authorities.
The SM Entertainment chief immediately denied the charges.
“This case was not an illicit acquisition of overseas real estate, but the simple omission of a declaration of change,” the company said through a press release.
“We have recently detected the omission and reported to the FSS, offering detailed explanations of the background.”
Keyeast, actress Han’s management agency, also issued a press release on Tuesday saying that Han had simply omitted the report by mistake.
“We are sorry that (Han) failed to submit the report on time as she was not precisely aware of the related regulations,” the company said.
It also promised to pay up, should the FSS impose a fine.
The corporate figures were more passive, with their companies declining to comment on the issue.
“We know nothing about the case, as it was a personal issue of the owner,” said an official of Samyang Tongsang, when asked about Hur’s asset acquirement.
Chairman Hur is an elder cousin of GS Group chairman Huh Chang-soo and son to the late LG Group founder Huh Man-jung.
By Bae Hyun-jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)