RETAIL BANKING | Cesar Tordesillas, Korea

Summoned chairman of suspended Korean savings bank commits suicide

Ace Mutual Savings Bank chairman Kim Hak-heon was found dead by his relative.


He was crouched beside a bed in a hotel room in southern Seoul after leaving his home the previous night, according to prosecutors.

Police said Kim probably died of suffocation after hanging himself from a fire sensor on the ceiling. Police also noted Kim apparently injured himself with a weapon found near his body.

Thirteen pages of suicide notes were found in the hotel room and in the office of another of Kim's relatives, according to police. Kim apologized to his family for his suicide in the notes, claiming his innocence in the charges of illegal lending he was facing.

Kim was scheduled to appear before prosecutors for questioning on Thursday in relation to their investigation, prosecutors said. They had sent summonses three times before the latest one, but he requested a postponement each time, prosecutors noted.

"It seems that he may have felt pressure ahead of the summons, we extend condolences to his family," a prosecutor said.

He was facing charges of illegitimately lending 690 billion won or $600 million to contract builders engaged in the construction of a bus terminal in Goyang, northwest of Seoul. He reportedly told prosecutors that he didn't exactly know the loans were illegal in his defense submitted to prosecutors.

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