South Korea ferry disaster: Manhunt launched for mystery billionaire owner of sunken ship
Authorities offer $50,000 reward for information on the whereabouts of Yoo Byung-eun
The disappearance of a mysterious billionaire thought to own the ferry that sank last month, leaving more than 300 people dead or missing, has prompted authorities in South Korea to offer a $50,000 (£29,000) reward for information about his whereabouts.
The disappearance of Yoo Byung-eun and his son has caused a media frenzy in South Korea. Yoo is a member of a church that critics call a cult and have linked to a 1987 mass suicide. Yoo, 73, was thought to be holed up in a sprawling church compound near Seoul and there was a tense standoff between police and hundreds of church followers, some of whom reportedly threatened to die as martyrs. But Yoo was not there when church members finally opened the compound to authorities on Wednesday.
Some speculated that he may have fled to the home of a church follower. Prosecutors and police then announced the reward for information about Yoo’s location and $30,000 (£17,800) for details about his eldest son.
Yoo, head of the now-defunct predecessor of the ferry’s current operator, Chonghaejin, allegedly still controls the company through a complex web of holding companies in which his children and close associates are large shareholders. Senior prosecutor Kim Hoe-jong said authorities believe Yoo is the chairman of Chonghaejin.
Yoo faces allegations of tax evasion, embezzlement and professional negligence. Prosecutors have said they suspect that the sinking on 16 April may have happened because Chonghaejin illicitly funnelled profits to Yoo’s family and so failed to spend enough money on safety and personnel. His son, Yoo Dae-gyun, faces embezzlement allegations. Chonghaejin’s official leader, CEO Kim Han-sik, and four other employees have already been arrested.
Billionaire Yoo Byung-Eun, who has mysteriously disappeared (AP)
Officials suspect improper stowage and overloading of cargo may have contributed to the disaster. Tens of thousands of posters of Yoo and his son have been put up all over South Korea. Officers who capture either of the men will be promoted by one rank.
Yoo is said to be the leader of the Evangelical Baptist Church, sometimes known as the Salvation Sect, and critics allege that church members call him “Moses”.
Church members deny that and say Yoo is an ordinary member, but admit he has some influence, as the church was founded by his father-in-law.
- 1 Scottish independence: Ireland since 1919 is a lesson for Scotland in what a Yes vote means
- 2 Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
- 3 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 4 Julian Assange and Edward Snowden join piracy mogul Kim Dotcom’s political campaign in New Zealand
Thailand deaths: Pair's bloodied bodies found naked on Koh Tao beach
Jihadi John': MI5 may have identified Isis militant who killed David Haines but options limited
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: Police will be on high alert on Friday whatever the result
David Haines beheading: David Cameron says Britain will hunt down Isis 'monsters' shown in video murdering aid worker
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
Salmond accused of laughing off national debt with ‘what are they going to do: invade?’ joke
£45000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsf...
£25000 - £30000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client are cur...
£110 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Cambridge: Supply teachers required fo...
£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...