South Korea is offering a reward for information about a mysterious missing billionaire who authorities say owns a ferry that sank last month, leaving more than 300 people dead or missing.

The disappearance of Yoo Byung-eun and his son has caused a media frenzy in South Korea. Yoo is a member of a church that critics call a cult and have linked to a 1987 mass suicide. Church members deny involvement.

Yoo, 73, was thought to be holed up in a sprawling church compound near Seoul, and there was a tense, days-long stand-off between police and hundreds of church followers, some of whom reportedly threatened to die as martyrs.

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But Yoo was not there when church members finally opened the compound to authorities on Wednesday, and some speculated that he might have fled to the home of a church follower.

Prosecutors and police then announced a 50 million won (£30,000) reward for information about Yoo's location, and 30 million won (£17,000) for details about his eldest son.

Yoo, head of the now-defunct predecessor of the ferry's current operator, Chonghaejin, allegedly still controls the company through a complex web of holding companies in which his children and close associates are large shareholders.