|Seoul National University / Korea Times file|
By Bahk Eun-ji
A foreign professor at Seoul National University (SNU) fled to his home country while being investigated on suspicions of embezzling more than 100 million won ($84,638) in research funds.
Investigators failed to impose an overseas travel ban on the academic while looking into the case.
According to local media reports, the professor at SNU's Graduate School of Dentistry had been under police investigation for allegedly pocketing research funds over four years from 2013.
His case was reported to the Anti-Corruption and Civil Rights Commission (ACRC) in March 2018. The ACRC referred the case to the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Science and ICT, and the police in August that year. The ACRC sends reported cases to relevant agencies if it determines the information is credible and an investigation is necessary.
The professor from India allegedly had graduate students return a large part of their salary to him and registered his family member as a researcher to receive a salaary. He also allegedly used the research lab's budget for personal use.
He allegedly embezzled 120 million won using these methods.
A researcher who studied under the professor told Yonhap News Agency that graduate students who participated in his research were each paid between 1.6 million won and 1.8 million won per month, but they only took about 400,000 won and returned the rest in cash to the academic.
The man's family member who was falsely registered as a researcher allegedly received about 3 million won in monthly salary.
The professor returned to his home country in 2019 after taking a sabbatical year. He did not return to work after the sabbatical, prompting SNU to dismiss him in November last year.
Police said they did not impose a travel ban, as the man was cooperating with the investigation at the time. The prosecution said it will suspend indicting him until his whereabouts are confirmed.