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The curious case of Woori Bank, an €8 billion lawsuit and an alleged letter from Deutsche Bank

A little-known plaintiff is alleging a truly enormous theft by Woori Bank. Everything about the allegations sets off alarms, and the testimony of Deutsche Bank will be crucial

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A lawsuit alleging the theft of €8 billion by Woori Bank, specifically accusing former chief executive Lee Kwang-Goo as the ringleader and with Deutsche Bank allegedly confirming the plaintiff's position, is working its way through the legal systems of South Korea and the United States.

It is among the strangest cases Euromoney has ever seen.

The allegation goes like this. The plaintiff is a group called AJ Energy LLC, registered in Nevada, which says it has a joint venture partner in Korea called NRG Ltd. The complaint states that in October 2015, NRG Ltd's UK partner, Hestiun Finance, transferred €3 billion to NRG Ltd on Woori Bank's common account through Deutsche Bank, for investment in Korean assets.

Woori, the complaint continues, denied ever receiving the funds. NRG complained to the Financial Supervisory Service in Seoul, only to receive a written denial from Woori about the funds in August of that year.

Despite this, the complaint alleges, a further €5 billion was then transferred to AJ Energy's offshore account at Woori Bank in February 2017, to invest in the Korean shipping industry.

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