Shim Hyung-rae, a well-known comedian-turned-film director, is being investigated over allegations involving unpaid wages.
The probe came after the Seoul Southern District Employment and Labor Office referred the case to the prosecution Tuesday.
Shim has been accused of having delayed paying 850 million won (~US$850,000) in wages to the employees of Younggu Art, a production firm he founded.
The company went under in July due to debt problems.
The probe comes amid growing allegations and rumors surrounding Shim such as embezzlement of corporate funds, the government's favorable funding to the company, abuse of staff and even offering to pay for prostitutes for policymakers.
"We are now looking into the payment delay claims. We may expand the investigation if petitions are filed over other allegations", a prosecutor at the Southern Seoul Prosecutors' Office said.
Prosecutors have asked the Ministry of Justice to impose an overseas travel ban on the filmmaker. "It is too early to say whether we will take legal action or not", the prosecutor said.
In August, 43 staffers of the production firm filed a petition with the labor office for unpaid wages and Shim was questioned about the matter.
Last month, police summoned several former staffer members and interrogated them about alleged misappropriation of company funds by Shim, who was once touted by the government as a role model for the youth for his innovative ideas.
They also questioned them about the allegation that Shim had three gas guns remodeled to accommodate bullets.
Police are also looking into matters concerning the director.
"We are investigating allegations involving embezzlement, gambling and illegal lobbying of policymakers", an officer at the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said.
During a parliamentary session on Sept. 30, it was alleged that Younggu Art received privileged investment from state agencies.
The production company obtained 3 billion won from the Korea Trade Insurance Corp. and 1.1 billion won from the Korea Creative Content Agency to make "The Last Godfather", which he produced in Hollywood last year, even though the company was not qualified for such investment.
It was claimed in a recent investigative program by MBC that Shim lobbied political heavyweights to land the investment, adding he offered prostitutes to some of them in the process.
심형래, 임금체불 혐의로 검찰 조사
심형래 영구아트무비 대표 겸 감독이 임금체불 혐의로 검찰 조사를 받는다.
서울남부지검은 19일 서울지방고용노동청 영구아트 직원들의 임금 8억5000만원 상담을 체불한 혐의를 받고 있는 심형래 대표에 대한 사건을 송치 받아 형사 6부(부장검사 전형근)에 배당했다.
심 대표는 앞서 임금체불에 대한 사원들의 진정으로 서울지방고용노동청 남부지청의 조사를 받았으며, 회사돈 11억원을 빌려 쓴 사실이 금융감독원 전자공시시스템을 통해 확인되기도 했다.
검찰은 우선 심 대표의 임금체불 혐의에 대해 수사하는 한편, 경찰에서 추가로 사건이 송치되거나 별도의 진정 또는 고발이 접수될 경우 수사를 확대할 방침이다.
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