Lee Man-hee, the leader of the South Korean religious group Shincheonji, was arrested after being charged with embezzlement and violating South Korea's Infectious Disease Control and Prevention Law.
Lee was accused of submitting false information about the group's gatherings and congregation list to the health authorities. Shincheonji is believed to be at the center of South Korea's first major outbreak of Covid-19 in February.
Shincheonji said in a statement that Lee has fully cooperated with authorities and called his arrest "regrettable."
A member of Shincheonji was the 31st person South Korea who was confirmed to have contracted Covid-19. After the patient's diagnosis, health authorities said they faced difficulty tracing the patient's close contacts. South Korean police deployed hundreds of officers to trace members of the group who could not be reached.
Lee issued a public apology in March, but denied accusations that he and his group have been hampering the health authorities’ efforts to contain and prevent infections. At the time, South Korea had identified more than 4,200 cases of Covid-19, more than any country except mainland China. More than half of those were tied to Shincheonji.