Lotte Group Chairman Avoids Arrest over Corruption Allegations
SEOUL, Sept. 29 (Yonhap) -- The chief of the embattled South Korean retail giant Lotte avoided arrest Thursday as a Seoul court rejected a prosecutors' request for a warrant to formally arrest him over embezzlement and breach of trust charges.
The Seoul Central District Court turned down the request, saying it's difficult to recognize the need for arresting the 61-year-old chairman, Shin Dong-bin.
"I think our group has a lot of shortcomings," Shin told reporters, leaving the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office. "I will take responsibility for overcoming them."
Lotte Group said it respects the court's decision, adding it will put every effort to normalize the group's management and minimize the potential damage to its employees and subcontractors.
Prosecutors have accused Shin of orchestrating a series of shady deals at the group's affiliates, as well as giving large stipends to the owner's family for just being listed as board members of the conglomerate's Korean and Japanese branches.
Authorities suspect the amount of money transacted illegally under Shin's direction to hover around some 170 billion won (US$154 million).
"It is a pity that the court rejected the warrant just based on the suspect's excuses when the amount of money embezzled or misappropriated by breach of trust hovers around 170 billion won, and the total amount siphoned off by the owner family nears 128 billion won," the prosecution said in a press release.
Prosecutors said they will review whether to reapply for the writ.'
Do you still spend money at Lotte companies? Do you think the Lotte chief chairman should have been held in jail?