Prosecutors allege the 89-year-old conspired with other cult leaders to withhold information from authorities during the peak of the epidemic among his more than 200,000 followers.
Lee, who described the novel coronavirus as “the act of the devil” to stop the cult’s growth, is said to have withheld details of the members and their hangouts as authorities tried to trace the routes of the infection in February, Yonhap News Agency reported.
Lee is also believed to have embezzled about 5.6 billion won ($ 4.7 million) in church funds, including about 5 billion won that he allegedly used to build a retreat, Yonhap said. .
The cult said in a statement that Lee was concerned about the government’s requests for members’ personal information, but never tried to hide anything.
Lee was arrested immediately after a court in Suwon District, south of Seoul, approved the warrant.
A public prosecutor could not be reached outside of office hours.