Former National Health Insurance Service Employee Extradited for Embezzlement

SEOUL – In a significant development in a high-profile embezzlement case, a 46-year-old man, identified only by his surname Choi, was extradited from the Philippines to South Korea on Wednesday. Choi is accused of embezzling billions of won from the state-run National Health Insurance Service.

According to Yonhap News Agency, Choi arrived at Incheon International Airport around 5 a.m. and was immediately transferred to the Gangwon Provincial Police Agency in Chuncheon for further investigation. He is alleged to have transferred a total of 4.6 billion won (approximately US$3.4 million) from the company's funds to his own account across seven instances since April 2022. The embezzled funds were reportedly converted into cryptocurrency in an attempt to conceal them.

The case came to light after the health insurance firm lodged a complaint in September 2022. Following a year and four months of extensive tracking, the police located Choi at a luxury resort in Manila and arrested him on January 9. Upon his arrival at the airport, Choi expressed remorse, apologizing to the company and the public. He asserted that he acted without any accomplices but declined to comment on the existence of any remaining funds or his motives for the crime.

South Korean police are now focused on tracing the usage of the embezzled money and determining if any funds remain, aside from the 720 million won already recovered by the health insurance firm. Authorities are also preparing to request an arrest warrant for Choi as early as Wednesday evening, signaling the ongoing efforts to address this significant case of financial misconduct.

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