A judge will decide on Tuesday afternoon whether to issue an arrest warrant for Yoo Byung-eon, the de facto owner of ferry operator Chonghaejin Marine, after he failed to respond to a summons by prosecutors.
Police are on standby to raid a compound owned by a cult led by Yoo south of Seoul if the warrant is approved. Cult followers have formed a human barricade around the compound where he is believed to be hiding.
Tensions mounted at noon on Monday, when around 50 police appeared at the gate of the compound. Kim Choon-sub of Gyeonggi police said officers were merely inspecting the facility while a police helicopter hovered overhead.
Cult followers continued to blockade the entrance after police left.
On Monday evening, some 20 investigators raided Yoo's summer home a short distance away after being tipped off that he was hiding there but found it empty.