S Korean cleaner may lose out after finding gold in bin

A gold bar wrapped in newspaper Image copyright GSO Images
Image caption South Korea's Lost Articles Law doesn't apply to one unlucky cleaner

A South Korean cleaner may miss out on a fortune in gold after an unexpected find in a rubbish bin, it's reported.

According to The Korea Times, a cleaner found seven gold bars worth a total 350 million won (£240,000; $330,000) whilst emptying a rubbish bin at Incheon International Airport on 26 April.

The bars, each weighing 1kg (2.2 lbs), were wrapped in newspapers, and police suspect that their original owner threw them away in a hurry because he risked being caught.

Currently, there is no proof that the gold is connected to criminal activity. It was originally thought that the cleaner, who has not been named by the media, would be able to make a substantial claim on the goods.

However, the airport has said that the cleaner won't be able to receive any reward because they were "working as airport staff and it is a part of the cleaner's job to find lost things".

Finders Keepers law

South Korea operates a "Finders Keepers" law on goods that are recovered when there is no known owner.

According to its Lost Articles Act legislation, if an owner doesn't come forward to claim found property within six months, the finder will be able to take ownership. However, this doesn't apply to employees on company property.

Ironically, if the finder had not been an airport employee, they would have been eligible to claim between 5-20% of the gold's total price, a maximum of 70 million won (£48,000; $65,000) under the law.

It's not clear who will take ownership of the gold at the end of the six month waiting period.

Reporting by Kerry Allen

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