A Guam court has sentenced a former Korean Air (KE, Seoul Incheon) office manager to 41 months imprisonment for bank fraud and money laundering offences. Sung Peel Hwang, also known as Don Sung Peel Hwang, was sentenced at the US District Court of Guam on May 7 for diverting funds to his personal accounts.

The US Attorney's Office alleges Hwang defrauded Korean Air of USD615, 271.51 between September 2015 and December 2018 while working as an administrator at the carrier's Guam International Airport office. Hwang's duties included reporting the number of passengers on Korean Air flights and paying a corresponding passenger facility charge to the airport, as well as paying for other office supplies and services. He was also a co-signatory on the airline's local checking account at the Bank of Guam. Korean Air declined to comment on the matter.

"As one part of his scheme, Hwang underreported the passenger facility charge owed to [the airport] and kept the difference between the actual charges owed and the charges paid for himself," a US Department of Justice statement reads. "Over the three-year scheme, Hwang deposited over USD3.5 million in Korean Air funds into his personal bank account and diverted over USD600,000 in Korean Air funds for his own personal use."

An audit by the airport eventually unravelled Hwang's extra-curricular bookkeeping efforts. Authorities located him in Texas and charged him in April 2023. After initially denying the charges, he pleaded guilty in December 2023. The Attorney General's office said he used several methods to make the checks he deposited in his accounts appear legitimate, "including lining out the payee and adding his own name, initialling the change and forging his co-signer's initials, and misleading his co-signer's signature on checks that he made out to himself."

In addition to the jail time, Hwang was ordered to pay full restitution plus a USD200 special assessment fee. He will also undergo five years of supervised release.