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2010/01/31 11:20 KST
Key suspect arrested in nation's largest multilevel fraud case: police

SEOUL, Jan. 31 (Yonhap) -- A key mastermind of what appears to be the nation's largest multilevel marketing fraud has been nabbed after more than a year on the run, police said Sunday.

   Seoul's Suseo Police Station said it has arrested a top executive of a multilevel marketing company suspected of swindling about 4 trillion won (US$3.46 billion) in investment funds from tens of thousands of investors at home.

   The suspect, identified only by his surname Kim, has been on the wanted list for one year and three months, investigators at the station said.

   The 43-year-old Kim had served as a management consultant for the multilevel marketing firm, Lib Inc., which is suspected of having run some 10 leasing companies to allegedly swindle 4 trillion won from nearly 50,000 people with a fraudulent promise of high return, according to the investigators.

   Police said this is believed to be the country's biggest fraud case, after JU Group, a Seoul-based multilevel marketing firm, had collected 2.1 trillion won from domestic investors through fraudulent methods in 2006.

   Kim had worked with Cho Hee-pal, the owner of Lib, who is believed to have smuggled himself into China in 2008 and disappeared there without a trace, said police.

   Kim had also attempted to flee to China with Cho but failed to cross the Yellow Sea due to rough seas, they said. He is also suspected of bribing police officers for information on the probe or help in avoiding detention, added police.