South Korea Casino Developer Can’t Find $13m, Employee Suspected

  • The missing money was kept on Jeju Island, home of Jeju Shinhwa World
  • Landing International Development can’t get in contact with the employee in charge of the funds
  • The company’s gaming business helped prop up overall losses in 2020
Attraction at Jeju Shinhwa World
South Korea-based casino developer Landing International Development is missing $13m and seems to suspect the employee in charge of the funds, who cannot be located. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Money disappeared from Jeju Island

South Korean casino and resort developer Landing International Development is missing KRW14.56b ($13.39m). In an “inside information announcement” on Tuesday, the company revealed that the significant chunk of money was kept on Jeju Island and its disappearance was discovered on Monday.

employee is the suspect

In the statement, Landing said that it does not know the whereabouts of the unnamed employee who is in charge of the funds. The implication here, clearly, is that the employee is the suspect.

The company operates the foreigner-only casino resort Jeju Shinhwa World on Jeju Island. Landing did not say if the missing $13m was cash or electronic funds, but the assumption, considering the company said the money was “kept” in Jeju, is that it was likely cash taken from the casino. Police are investigating the incident.

Gaming has helped cushion losses

The possible robbery is just the latest hit to Landing International Development. In August, the company reported a net loss of HKD792.2m ($102.2) for the first six months of 2020. If there was a silver lining, it is that this was only a decline of 5.2% from the same period of the previous year. Revenue, for comparison, was down 24.5% year-on-year during the first half of 2020 to HKD262.1m ($33.8m).

It turns out that the drop in profit was not as bad as that of revenue in terms of percentage because of gaming. Gaming revenue actually jumped 26.6% in the first half of 2020 versus 2019 to HKD101.1m ($13.0m).

The company said that a “decrease in operating expenses” and the end of some leases – which, in turn, caused finance costs to drop – also buoyed the net losses compared to the revenue decrease.

Pandemic worsening in South Korea

As one would expect, the bulk of the financial problems for Landing International stem from the COVID-19 pandemic. Though South Korea has handled the pandemic better than most countries, it has still been a problem and has resulted in multiple stretches of shutdowns, including casinos.

In addition to casino closures, the overall steep reduction in visitors to the country was a sharp blow to Landing International. The company has paused major construction projects at Jeju Shinhwa World, including a Four Seasons Resort and a Lionsgate Movie World theme park.

A month ago, South Korean President Moon Jae-in called for better contact tracing and more COVID-19 testing as virus statistics took a negative turn. After averaging about 1.2% all year, the country’s testing positivity rate had jumped to 4.2% in early December. Daily new cases peaked around Christmas and are still currently near their highs.