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Hanwha chairman ordered to compensate shareholders

A Seoul court ordered disgraced Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn Thursday to compensate the group's shareholders nearly 9 billion won ($8.49 million) for their massive losses.

The 61-year-old tycoon was indicted on charges of ordering the group's executives to arrange the illicit sale of Hanwha S&C bonds to his eldest son in 2005 at a huge discount to help him take the largest stake in the group's IT arm.

Chairman Kim and eight executives of the country's 10th largest family-controlled conglomerate, however, were acquitted of the charges in a criminal trial.

The group's two minority shareholders filed a civil lawsuit, demanding that the nine pay back the losses to the conglomerate.

The Seoul Central District Court partially ruled in favor of the plaintiffs and ordered Chairman Kim to pay back 8.96 billion won in damages, saying that he inflicted massive financial losses to the shareholders in an aim to maintain the control of the group.

"(Kim) holds liability in compensation for damages even if his acquittal has been confirmed by the top court in a criminal trial,"

Judge Yoon Jong-koo said in a ruling.

The court, however, ruled that other executives are not liable, saying that there is not enough evidence to prove that they were negligent.

The Supreme Court last month reversed a lower court's ruling on Kim on separate embezzlement charges and sent the case back to an appellate court for a retrial.

Kim was charged with using company money to pay back debts of firms he was running under borrowed names, causing hundreds of billions of won in losses to the group.

A Seoul district court previously handed down a four-year sentence to Kim. However, the Seoul High Court in April commuted the sentence to three years on account of his efforts to recover losses he caused to the conglomerate with his private money.

Kim, who was sent to prison immediately after the verdict was read in the district court, was released from prison in January after the court accepted his request to temporarily suspend his sentence. The court again extended the suspension of imprisonment until Nov. 7. (Yonhap News)