The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS) has launched an investigation into an overseas SK affiliate, Bergaya International, and a real estate deal linked to a 41-year-old American citizen with the last name of Kim. Kim is alleged to have violated the foreign exchange law by not reporting the sale of her apartment in Seoul to an SK affiliate in Singapore for 2.4 billion won (US$2.0 million) in 2010, local media reported Thursday.
The Financial Supervisory Service summoned Kim to court and officials at Bergaya International, a Singapore-based SK consulting firm, to question if they breached the forex transaction law.
Kim bought an apartment in Banpo for 1.55 billion won ($1.28 million) in 2008 and then sold it to Bergaya International for 2.4 billion won in 2010.
The apartment drew broad public attention as SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won recently disclosed the fact he was in an extramarital affair with Kim and had a child out of wedlock.
It turned out that both sides failed to report the property deal to the Bank of Korea.
Under the law, non-residents including people with foreign citizenship, Koreans who live abroad and companies operating overseas are obliged to inform the Bank of Korea when they purchase real estate in Korea. The law is intended to prevent people and companies from evading taxes.
When reached by Business Korea, a representative of the SK Group identified by the surname Cho, however, denied the accusation that both Kim and Bergaya International failed to report the property transaction to the Bank of Korea.
An FSS official said, “Those who break the rule are subject to penalties of up to 100 million won or up to one year imprisonment.”
Chey served a four-year prison term for embezzlement before being pardoned by President Park Geun-Hye in August last year. He was charged with embezzling nearly US$47 million from two SK Group affiliates and diverting the funds to personal wagers on stock futures and options in 2008. For this reason, some media outlets have speculated that Chey might have embezzled his company’s money to buy the house for Kim and used the overseas affiliate in the process.