LOTTE GRAFT TRIAL

Group founder and chil­dren deny em­bez­zle­ment, cor­rup­tion charges

New Straits Times - - Business -

SEOUL that earned US$81 bil­lion (RM358.5 bil­lion) in rev­enue last year.

The four faced the court to an­swer ques­tions about whether they were in­volved in white-col­lar crime at the con­glom­er­ate that op­er­ates ho­tels, theme parks, duty-free shops, chem­i­cals and owns as­sets in­clud­ing Guylian Bel­gian choco­lates and New York’s Palace Ho­tel.

Af­ter se­nior Shin ceded con­trol of the busi­ness em­pire he built, his two sons have been em­broiled in a power strug­gle, while daugh­ter Shin Young-ja was sen­tenced to three years in prison in Jan­uary on sep­a­rate charges of em­bez­zle­ment and breach of trust.

The two feud­ing broth­ers barely made any eye con­tact in the court room though they were sit­ting only a few feet apart.

Also fac­ing trial with Shin scions is Seo Mi-kyung, the founder’s com­mon-law wife, who has been liv­ing in Ja­pan. She has also de­nied wrong­do­ing.

Shin Dong-bin has also had to an­swer al­le­ga­tions from Par­lia­ment in a sep­a­rate case that Lotte gave bribes to foun­da­tions con­trolled by for­mer pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye’s con­fi­dante Choi Soon-sil, an ac­cu­sa­tion the Lotte Group de­nies.

Lotte’s woes aren’t just con­fined to the graft trial.

More re­cently, the group bore the brunt of re­tal­i­a­tion from China over the con­glom­er­ate’s de­ci­sion to pro­vide some land for United States de­ploy­ment of a mis­sile de­fence sys­tem in South Korea.

Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties have sus­pended some Lotte Mart stores in the main­land be­cause of al­leged fire-safety vi­o­la­tions, while a ven­ture with Her­shey Co has been told by Chi­nese au­thor­i­ties to stop pro­duc­tion for a month. Reuters

BLOOMBERG PIC

Shin Kyuk-ho, founder and hon­orary chair­man of Lotte Group (in a wheel­chair) ar­riv­ing at the Seoul Cen­tral District Court in Seoul, yes­ter­day. He is fac­ing cor­rup­tion charges along with three of his chil­dren.

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