Swiss firm says South Korean exec made off with millions

AP News
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Posted: Feb 22, 2017 6:58 AM

GENEVA (AP) — Swiss engineering company ABB says that an executive at its South Korean unit is suspected of leading a "sophisticated criminal scheme" to steal millions of dollars from the company. The scandal could cost it as much as $100 million.

The Zurich-based company says in a statement that the treasurer of the subsidiary, who went missing on Feb. 7, "is suspected of forging documentation and colluding with third parties to steal from the company."

ABB said it launched an investigation in cooperation with South Korean authorities and Interpol, the international police body. It has confirmed that the "situation" is limited to South Korea.

South Korean police confirmed the suspect's identity as ABB Korea's vice president, surnamed Oh. ABB documents show it has an executive in South Korea named Oh Myung-se.

An official at Cheonan SeoBuk police station said Oh left South Korea for Hong Kong on Feb. 4 and is currently being sought by Interpol. Interpol did not comment, nor did it have the name "Oh" in the search database on its public red-notice wanted list online.

The police official, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to media regarding the investigation, said the police is trying to locate the suspect and in the meantime is trying to confirm more details.

ABB filed a complaint on Feb. 8 with the police station in the south of Seoul, accusing Oh of embezzling 35.7 billion won ($31.2 million) of the company's funds. He has been the company's finance executive for about two years since Feb. 2015.

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Lee reported from Seoul.