Yoo Byung-eon, the de facto owner of ferry operator Chonghaejin Marine, failed to appear before a judge to review his arrest warrant by the Tuesday deadline. Lawyers for Yoo, who has been in hiding since the ferry disaster off the southwest coast, offered no explanation.
Prosecutors and court officials in Incheon said Yoo did not inform them that he would be absent. Prosecutors now want to wait until his court summons expires on Thursday before the Incheon district court decides whether to issue an arrest warrant.
The dubious businessman and part-time cult leader is believed to be hiding in a religious compound south of Seoul or at the home of a cult follower.
A prosecution official said, "It looks as if Yoo left the compound after a prayer meeting on Saturday and is hiding at the home of a cult member near Seoul."
But another prosecution official said, "We can't rule out that he is still be hiding in the compound," where around 1,000 cult members have formed a human barricade.
Meanwhile, Yoo's eldest son Dae-gyun apparently bought a ticket to Paris on April 19, three days after the ferry sank, but did not board the plane.