Yoo Buyng-eon, who became Korea's most wanted man after the April 16 ferry disaster, was hiding in a secret compartment in the wall of a cottage during a police raid in May, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Prosecutors and police are under fire after news that it took 40 days to identify Yoo's decomposed body, which was discovered by a local resident just a few kilometers from the cottage on June 12 while a massive manhunt went on obliviously.
Prosecutors in Incheon on Wednesday belatedly revealed testimony from Yoo's secretary on June 26 that the septuagenarian was hiding in a secret compartment on the second floor of the cottage when police and prosecutors raided it on May 25.
The secretary, identified as Shin, had previously told prosecutors that someone had taken Yoo away early in the morning, a few hours before the raid.
Investigators searched the cottage again the day after Shin's testimony and found a 9.9 sq. m space inside the wall on the second floor, where they discovered two bags containing W830 million (US$1=W1,024) and US$160,000 in cash.
Prosecutors were apparently afraid of public criticism and hid the fact until Yoo's body was found.
Meanwhile, the National Forensic Service, which is carrying out an autopsy on Yoo's body, will announce the cause of his death as early as Thursday.
Forensic experts have conducted toxicology tests and a preliminary autopsy to determine whether he was murdered or died of natural causes.