Korean casino heist money to be returned to Jeju

Jon Pill
Posted on: March 17, 2021 03:17 PDT

On January 4, 2021 The Landing International Limited announced that some miscreant had lifted KRW13.4 billion (~$11 million) from Landing Casino . The casino is one of Landing International's major assets and is located in Jeju Shinhwa World, a huge recreational complex in Korea.

Since then, the police managed to run down first the money, then the suspects. But until this week, it looked like Landing might not be entitled to get the confiscated funds back. To get the stolen money back they would have to prove that the funds were not the proceeds of crime.

All that has changed this week. In a new statement to their investors, issued via the Hong Kong stock exchange, Landing announced that "the investigation of Jeju police is still on-going, and it is anticipated that the seized money will be returned to the group after the relevant investigation and/or legal procedures are completed."

Yee-O-Eleven

One of the Landing Casino's employees, along with a pair of accomplices, was responsible for the $11 million theft. The employee controlled a safe containing the cash as part of her role at the casino. She used her position to access the safe and empty it.

The police recovered the funds later. The perps had split the cash up and stashed some in one of the suspects' houses, and the rest inside the room-safe of one of Landing's own VIP hotel rooms. The police managed to haul in one of the suspects within a couple of weeks, but the other two, including the unnamed Landing employee, remain on the lam.

Landing has had a tough pandemic, issuing a profit warning on March 4, 2021 for the previous accounting year.

The profit warning document primarily blames COVID for the drop in revenue for 2020. However, it does make reference to the cost of the heist. Referring to the theft as the "Incident," the profit warning says that "as the investigation of the Incident is still on-going, the Company has yet to ascertain the recoverable amount. [...] it is expected that the Incident is highly likely to incur a loss for the Year [ending December 31st][2020]."

Feeling fine

Landing International has had a shake-up since the heist.

Losing billions of won to a dodgy employee led to an investigation into their business practices. This in turn landed Landing with a fine. They were charged with failing to meet worker protection standards over the past two years.

Then Landing board member Yang Zhihui stepped down from one of his roles on the board of China Dive Company Limited. Yang is under investigation for alleged market manipulation . While he has not left Landing, the accusations may have been a factor in the board reshuffle that followed.

The reshuffle adjusted some roles of those on the board. It put others out to pasture and brought in some new blood. Landing was keen to stress that this was not due to the heist. At least, not directly. More likely, it served to reassure investors that they were taking the profit warning seriously. And also mitigating any reputational threat should the Chinese probe prove something untoward about Yang's behavior.

Now that the lost money is likely to be coming home. Perhaps this marks a shift to a less turbulent quarter for the casino.

Featured image source: Flickr by Chung Shao Tung