South Korea’s Jeju Shinhwa World Casino Starts Manhunt as $13 Million ‘Missing’

Posted on: January 8, 2021, 07:31h. 

Last updated on: January 8, 2021, 10:59h.

Police on the South Korean tourist island of Jeju are hunting an employee of Landing International’s Jeju Shinhwa World. That’s after the Hong Kong-based operator reported US$13.38 million in Korean banknotes had gone missing from a casino safe.

Jeju Shinhwa
The missing Korean won banknotes would weigh over 617 lbs. in total, which suggests the money could still be on the island. (Image: Bloomberg)

South Korean news agency Yonhap reports that the female Malaysian employee in charge of the cash left for a vacation before Christmas and is now incommunicado. The money belongs to Landing International.

The case is mystifying because a large amount of cash would be heavy and exceedingly difficult to transport.

According to Yonhap, 291,200 50,000-won bills are missing, which would fill around 12 apple boxes. The total weight of the banknotes would be more than 617 lbs.

Police believe it’s highly likely the money is still on the island because of the difficulty of transporting it undetected via airports or seaports. Nevertheless, they say they are keeping all possibilities open.

Security Footage Wiped

Police told Yonhap that security footage from the time of the theft had been erased. They suspect at least two perpetrators were involved because of the bulkiness of the cash.

But a report in The Korean Times quotes one police officer who said the money appeared to have been taken over a period of seven to eight months.

Opened in 2018, Jeju Shinwa World is an enormous casino resort destination, comprising hotels, several theme parks, a waterpark, and a K-Pop themed entertainment center. As with all but one South Korean casino, it’s foreigner-only, which means locals are forbidden from gambling.

Where’s Bill?

It’s not unheard of for casino employees to go missing with large amounts of cash. In September 1992, a mild-mannered cashier at the Stardust sportsbook in Las Vegas, Bill Brennant, finished up his shift at lunch as usual. He swung his bag over his shoulder, casually said goodbye to his colleagues, and headed for the exit, just as he did every day.

Except on this particular day, Brennant’s’ bag was stuffed with $500,000 of the casino’s cash, worth around $1 million today. Brennant disappeared into thin air, never to be seen again.

In July this year, Las Vegas Sands Corp settled a lawsuit with a disgruntled high roller who claimed that employees of its Marina Bay Sands property in Singapore had transferred $6.5 million of his funds to other casino patrons he didn’t know without his permission.

In September, LVS hired a law firm to investigate employee transfers of more than $1 billion in gamblers’ money to third parties.