LOS ANGELES - A South Korean national wanted in his native country in connection with a multi-million dollar embezzlement scheme was turned over to representatives from the Seoul Metropolitan Police Department at the Seoul airport Friday by officers from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and officials from the Korean Consulate in Los Angeles.
Chang Kul Bae, 48, is the subject of an Interpol warrant for allegedly stealing more than $37 million from Sungkwang NB Tech Col. Ltd., the South Korean business where he formerly served as chief director. The theft allegedly occurred on a single day in January 2003, when Bae is suspected of stealing the $37 million in several withdrawals. A year later, according to the warrant, Bae fled to the United States.
Bae's repatriation by the ICE Office of Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) follows his capture in August in Arcadia, Calif. Bae was taken into custody on administrative immigration violations by special agents with the ICE Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI). HSI agents began searching for Bae after Korean authorities alerted ICE about the Interpol warrant and their suspicions the fugitive might be in the Los Angeles area. HSI agents ultimately located Bae, whose U.S. visa had long since expired. In October, Bae waived his right to an immigration hearing and agreed to voluntarily return to South Korea under U.S. government escort.
"Removing criminal aliens is a top priority for ICE and the Department of Homeland Security," said ICE Director John Morton. "Our goal is not only to see justice served, but to protect law-abiding citizens in both of our countries."
Director Morton noted that the repatriation of growing numbers of foreign fugitives captured in this country shows the significant public safety benefits of expanded cooperation and communication between the Department of Homeland Security and foreign law enforcement agencies.
"The Korean consulate in LA and the Korean National Police Agency are grateful to ICE for the wonderful cooperation in arresting and deporting Korean fugitives," said Jonggil Kim, the South Korean consul in Los Angeles. "We hope this well organized partnership between our governments will continue and eventually make huge contributions to bringing justice in both countries."
From April 2009 through Aug. 2010, ICE ERO officers nationwide coordinated the removal of more than 150 foreign nationals being sought in their native countries for serious crimes, including kidnapping, rape and murder.