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Businessman hit with $96M verdict for bond fraud

A group of bondholders who got stiffed when a major German conference center project went bust have won a $96.4-million Alexandria federal jury verdict against a South Korean national who allegedly lied about backing for the bonds.

The jury found former McLean businessman Man Ki Kim committed fraud when he promised to provide money for a planned World Conference Center in Bonn, Germany. Although he’s now behind bars in Germany, lawyers for the bondholders say he may still have assets in Virginia they hope to find.

The verdict included $48.2 million in compensatory damages and $48.2 million in punitive damages. The punitive award is subject to Virginia’s $350,000 cap, reported one of the lawyers for the bondholders.

New York’s Jim Ringer, lead counsel for the bondholders, said it appeared Kim was trying to keep his deals alive by borrowing from one entity to fund another.

“There are a lot of people who think if you keep the ball in the air long enough you can succeed,” Ringer said. “Sooner or later the ball comes down.”

Counsel for Kim, Sang Kuen Park of Annandale, declined to comment while post-trial motions are pending.

By Peter Vieth

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