South Korea Police Seek Three Suspects After Finding $10.9m in Casino Theft Investigation

  • The police investigation began on January 4 after Landing International lost $13.4m
  • Authorities allege a casino executive stole the cash with the help of two accomplices
  • Police found around $7.4m at Landing Casino and $3.6m at the employee’s last known address
  • Last year, South Korean casinos struggled with COVID restrictions as revenue declined
South Korean police officer
South Korea police have located $10.9m worth of cash stolen from Landing International Development. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Update: Jeju Island authorities on January 20 announced the arrest of a suspect in his 30s, in connection with the theft that took place at the Jeju Shinhwa World casino.

A significant break in the case

Police in South Korea are searching for three suspects in a casino theft case after finding a combined KRW12bn ($10.9m) in stolen cash at two locations.

Police launched their investigation on January 4 when South Korean casino and resort developer Landing International Development reported the missing funds, totaling KRW14.56bn ($13.4m). After initially storing the cash on Jeju Island, the company said it did not know the whereabouts of the money or the employee in charge of it.

authorities announced they had located the $10.9m in cash at two separate locations on Thursday

Since then, police have been attempting to track down the funds and the 55-year-old female Landing Casino executive tasked with its safekeeping. According to a Yonhap News Agency report, authorities announced they had located the $10.9m in cash at two separate locations on Thursday.

Police allege the executive stole the money with the help of two accomplices. Investigators do not believe the accomplices are employees of Landing International.

Further details of the investigation

Hong-Kong listed Landing International announced the missing funds in an “inside information announcement” on January 5. The company runs the foreigner-only casino resort Jeju Shinhwa World on Jeju Island, home to Landing Casino. Landing International initially tasked a Malaysian casino executive to look after the funds before they disappeared.

After an investigation, police found around KRW8.15bn ($7.4m) in a VIP room safe at Landing Casino. Meanwhile, authorities located the remaining KRW4bn ($3.6m) at the last known accommodation of the Landing International employee who was in charge of the funds.

The possibility of other accomplices being involved in the theft cannot be ruled out.”

Commenting on the discovery, police said: “All the retrieved money is cash in new 50,000-won bills. The possibility of other accomplices being involved in the theft cannot be ruled out.”

Police added that the Landing International executive removed the cash from the Jeju casino’s safe in accordance with security procedures.

According to the Yohap report, police believe the Landing International employee and one of her accomplices, a Chinese national around 30 years old, are currently overseas. Meanwhile, authorities expect the third accomplice to be in South Korea.

A difficult time for South Korean casinos

This latest theft case is only adding to Landing International’s current list of woes. The company reported a net loss of HKD792.2m ($102.2m) for the first six months of 2020. Revenue was down 25% year-on-year for the period, to HKD262.1m ($33.8m).

Landing International was not the only South Korean casino company to suffer last year. Casino operator Paradise Co Ltd saw gaming revenue fall by more than half for the full year 2020. The company’s annual revenue was KRW335.3bn ($305.7m), corresponding to a loss of 57% from 2019 levels.

The region’s casino losses can be attributed, in part, to low travel numbers because of the coronavirus pandemic. Last November, Grand Korea Leisure Co Ltd (GKL) reported a 50% drop in sales month-on-month in its foreigner-only casinos in South Korea. The November total of KRW5.5bn ($5m) corresponded to a loss of 88% year-on-year.

In December, new restrictions came into force because of spiking COVID-19 cases in South Korea. GKL announced the closure of its Seven Luck Casinos in Seoul. The operator estimated a loss of around $5m because of the shutdown. Meanwhile, South Korea’s largest casino, Kangwon Land, also shut its doors in December, closing for the third time that year.