LOS ANGELES — A Korean national wanted in his native country for allegedly embezzling the bank he worked for out of $45 million was turned over to South Korean law enforcement representatives Friday at Seoul Incheon International Airport by officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO).
Cho Woong Yoo, 67, was transported from Los Angeles to South Korea on board a commercial aircraft escorted by officers from ICE ERO. Yoo is charged in a criminal warrant issued in November 2001 by Korean authorities with making unauthorized loans to ineligible individuals on 22 occasions in 1999 and 2000 while he was employed at the Dongbang Mutual Savings Bank in Seoul. The alleged "violation of duty" resulted in a loss to the bank of $45 million. If convicted, Yoo faces a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Choi's removal to Korea follows his April 3 arrest on administrative immigration violations at his Los Angeles residence by officers assigned to ERO's Fugitive Alien Removal (FAR) Unit. In March, the FAR officers received a copy of the Interpol Red Notice regarding Yoo's outstanding criminal warrant and began attempts to locate him.
Department of Homeland Security databases indicate Yoo originally entered the United States in October 2000 on a visitor's visa, with authorization to remain in the country for six months. When he failed to depart by the end of that period, he became subject to administrative arrest. Yoo was ordered removed by an immigration judge April 20. Yoo's subsequent appeal to the Board of Immigration Appeals was dismissed.
"This arrest and repatriation should serve as a sobering reminder to foreign fugitives who mistakenly believe they can elude justice by fleeing to this country," said David Marin, acting field office director for ERO Los Angeles. "ICE will continue to work closely with its foreign law enforcement counterparts not only to ensure that criminals are held accountable for their actions, but to safeguard the rights of law-abiding citizens here and overseas."
Since Oct. 1, 2009, ICE ERO has removed 455 foreign fugitives from the United States who were being sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder. ICE ERO works with ICE's Office of International Affairs, foreign consular offices in the United States, and Interpol to identify foreign fugitives illegally present in the country.