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(LEAD) Court denies arrest warrant for Seungri on embezzlement, pimping charges

All News 22:29 May 14, 2019

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES with more details throughout)

SEOUL, May 14 (Yonhap) -- A local court refused Tuesday to issue an arrest warrant against former BIGBANG member Seungri, who faces embezzlement and pimping charges, in connection with a police probe into a sex and drug scandal surrounding a nightclub in southern Seoul.

The Seoul Central District Court said there is "room for dispute" over his alleged embezzlement and there is little concern that he could destroy evidence.

The 28-year-old singer is alleged to have arranged sex services for Japanese investors in 2015, together with his business partner Yoo In-suk, a former head of Yuri Holdings Co. He is also suspected of paying for prostitution services in 2015.

They face allegations of embezzling about 530 million won (US$445,700) in total from Burning Sun, a club in southern Seoul for which the singer once worked, in 2016.

The court also rejected the arrest warrant against Yoo.

Earlier in the day, a local court held hearings for them over the allegations. Seungri has denied the allegations.

Former BIGBANG member Seungri appears at the Seoul Central District Court on May 14, 2019, to attend a hearing to decide whether to issue an arrest warrant for him on charges of arranging sex services for investors and embezzling money at a nightclub embroiled in drug and sex scandals. (Yonhap)

Burning Sun stands at the center of the sex and drug scandals involving Seungri and other K-pop stars. The club closed down in February after it came under investigation over drug use, sexual violence and corrupt ties with district police.

The scandal started last November after the club's security staff beat up a customer who claimed he tried to protect a woman who was manhandled by a club employee. He was beaten by the club's officials and police officers as an attacker.

The case has brought to the fore several crimes including drug trafficking and sexual assaults that were allegedly committed at the club.

Seungri had served as an inside board director of the club and actively promoted it on TV and online.

Initially, he said he did not directly engage in the club's management, but later he announced his retirement from the K-pop industry in a gesture of taking responsibility for the suspicions.

Seungri is also one of the entertainers who allegedly shared sex videos of about 10 women secretly filmed by now-jailed singer Jung Joon-young in a mobile chat room.

The latest scandals involving K-pop stars have sent shockwaves across the country. In March, President Moon Jae-in ordered a thorough investigation into a snowballing drug and sex scandal involving K-pop stars and other cases in which the truth has not been fully uncovered.


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