January 14, 2021 13:38
A stash of W8.1 billion has been found in a secret safe at the Landing Casino in the Shinhwa World Marriott Resort on Jeju Island, where billions have gone missing (US$1=W1,097).
Police said Wednesday that the new stash was found in a safe in a secret vault in the casino from where another W14.5 billion in cash had vanished without a trace.
The secret vault is not the casino's ordinary safe where chips and gambling money are stored, but a 50 sq.m space containing dozens of safes of different sizes.
Police discovered the new stash of money while raiding the secret vault after the casino filed a report accusing a female Malaysian executive of making off with the W14.5 billion in crisp W50,000 notes that would have weighed nearly 300 kg.
The 55-year-old woman disappeared last December and is suspected of absconding with the money on behalf of her boss, the troubled Hong Kong-based chairman of Landing International, Yang Zhihui.
The casino earlier said the money had been deposited by Landing International and did not come out of the Jeu casino's funds. But staff there were apparently unaware of the newly discovered W8.1 billion.
The safe could only be opened by simultaneously inserting two keys, and only a handful of executives including the missing woman had both. Police are comparing the serial numbers of the bills to see if the W8.1 billion is part of the same stash as the missing billions.
Landing International reportedly withdrew altogether W30 billion in W50,000 notes from a Korean bank when the casino opened in March 2018, saying it was an "investment."
While investigating the heist, police found another W4 billion stashed at an undisclosed location on Jeju which they believe is part of the money that went missing. Police also searched the home of the missing woman but did not find any money there.
The woman been sent to the Jeju casino by Yang, who had been in trouble with Chinese authorities, spent time in detention, and came out "a changed man," according to witnesses. She seems mostly to have reported to Yang and had little contact with other executives in Jeju.
It remains a mystery how the bulky cash could have been spirited out of the casino, which is monitored by hundreds of CCTV cameras. Even W4 billion in W50,000 notes weighs 77.6 kg or as much as a tall man.
Police are also looking for a Chinese man living in Korea who is believed to be an accomplice.
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