SEOUL Fraud charges against Lotte founding family
SOUTH Korean prosecutors yesterday charged the chair of retail giant Lotte Group, along with his father and brother, with tax evasion and embezzlement following a lengthy corruption probe.
According to the indictment, chair Shin Dong-bin, 61, cost the country’s fifth-largest family-run conglomerate 175 billion won (US$162 million) through a series of financial scams and irregularities.
Similar charges were levelled against Mr Shin’s father, Lotte’s 93-year-old founder Shin Kyuk-ho, as well as older brother Dong-joo.
The Seoul-based group, founded in Tokyo in 1948, has a vast network of businesses in South Korea and Japan including department stores, hotels and processed food, with combined assets valued at more than $90 billion.
It has been in the headlines due to a bitter and very public fight for control of the group between Shin Dongbin and his older brother.
The dispute, which ended after the group’s board members sided with Shin Dong-bin, fuelled public criticism of how South Korea’s dominant family-run conglomerates – known as chaebol – conduct their business affairs.
As public anger grew, the group came under tougher regulatory scrutiny and investigations.
Late last month Shin Kyuk-ho’s wife and daughter were indicted for tax evasion and embezzlement.
The charges against the five Shin family members allege financial wrongdoing totalling some 280 billion won. –