Kakao chairman Kim Beom-soo was again dragged into a gambling scandal that has swirled in the market over the past couple of years.
This time, Korean prosecutors have reportedly obtained information from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Department of Treasury that Kakao mobile messenger founder Kim had spent 20 hours and 51 minutes at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas in 2007, when he served as NHN global CEO. He betted an average of $2,440 per session and lost $16,993 within the night, local Hankook Ilbo newspaper reported.
Though the statute of limitation for gambling is set at five years here and makes him immune from any prosecution, the scandal is expected to deal a blow to a series of businesses Kim is pushing ahead.
Kakao has joined a consortium to win a bid to run the country’s first Internet-only bank, while seeking to run short-term chauffer services through its messenger service. And the scandal, which has lingered in the market since 2013, will not benefit the company, analysts said.
The company’s Wednesday decision to comply with the prosecution’s warrants requesting monitoring of chatting records in criminal cases, a reversal from its earlier stance, with rumors that he succumbed to the investigative powers.
A Kakao spokeswoman refused to comment about the reported investigation. She added that the company’s acceptance of monitoring warrants and Kim’s scandal erupting at the same week is “a pure coincidence.”
By Bae Ji-sook (email@example.com