SEOUL, Oct. 21 (Yonhap) — A former chief executive of a Kosdaq-listed ship parts maker was questioned Wednesday by Seoul prosecutors investigating a large-scale fraud by the scandal-ridden private equity investment firm Optimus Asset Management.

The former CEO of Haeduk Powerway Co., identified only as Lee, was called in by the Seoul Central Prosecutors Office to be questioned over his role in Optimus Asset Management’s suspected capital-free acquisition of Haeduk last year.

Lee took over the management of the financially troubled Haeduk Powerway in April 2018 and the company then invested a total of 37.09 billion won (US$32.77 million) into private equity funds operated by Optimus Asset later that year. According to the list of Optimus investors, Haeduk invested 2 billion won on Sept. 27, 2018, and another 13 billion won on Nov. 7 of the same year.

Lee resigned as CEO of Haeduk on Nov. 30, 2018, and Hwasung Industrial, an affiliate of Septillion Co. jointly owned by the wives of Kim Jae-hyun, the arrested CEO of Optimus Asset, and Yoon Seok-ho, the arrested director of Optimus Asset, acquired the biggest 15.89 percent in Haeduk in February last year.

In this regard, allegations have arisen that Optimus Asset took control of Haeduk through the so-called capital-free merger and acquisition method without spending a single penny.

The Optimus scandal centers on allegations that the private equity company solicited funds worth about 1.2 trillion won from about 2,900 investors for investments in public institutions but actually funneled most of the money into risky assets, causing huge losses to the investors. In June, Optimus suspended withdrawals from its funds.

Prosecutors tracking down fund flows in and out of Optimus reportedly questioned Lee about the processes of his acquisition of Haeduk and the company’s investments in Optimus Asset.

Lee, who now runs a plastic surgery clinic in southern Seoul, was confronted by reporters at the Seoul prosecutors office, but refused to answer questions, saying only, “I’m also a victim. I have nothing to say.”

Meanwhile, prosecutors have obtained computer server records from the state-run Korea Communications Agency as part of their probe into suspicions of bribery surrounding the agency’s investment of 67 billion won into Optimus Asset funds between 2017 and 2018.