Hanwha chief gets suspended prison term in retrial

By Korea Herald
  • Published : Feb 11, 2014 - 20:17
  • Updated : Feb 11, 2014 - 20:17
Kim Seung-youn
A Seoul appellate court on Tuesday convicted Hanwha Group chairman Kim Seung-youn for embezzlement and gave him a suspended prison term.

In a retrial held four months after the nation’s top court sent the case back, the Seoul High Court sentenced the 62-year-old disgraced tycoon to three years in prison with a five-year stay of execution.

Kim was found guilty of using company money to pay back debts of other firms he was running under borrowed names, causing hundreds of billions of won in losses to Hanwha Group, South Korea’s 10th-largest family-controlled conglomerate.

The court, upholding a lower court’s decision, also ordered the chairman to pay 5.1 billion won ($4.5 million) in fines.

“The defendant has constantly made efforts to recover losses he caused to the conglomerate and deposited 159.7 billion won of his private money,” judge Kim Ki-jeong said in his ruling, adding that he took Kim’s poor health into consideration.

A Seoul district court previously handed down a four-year sentence to Kim but the Seoul High Court commuted the sentence to three years.

Kim, who was sent to prison immediately after the verdict was read in the district court, was released from prison in January 2013 after the court accepted his request to temporarily suspend his sentence.

The chairman has since been staying at a Seoul hospital to receive treatment for breathing problems and manic depression.

The Supreme Court in September reversed an appeals court’s ruling against Kim on embezzlement charges and sent the case back to the Seoul High Court to recalculate some of the financial damages incurred by the group.

Prosecutors claimed that Kim caused about 300 billion won worth of financial damages to Hanwha by falsely lending money and selling stocks of affiliates to his relatives at below the market price.

Kim’s attorney argued that the estimated damage is 139.3 billion won, citing the appeals court’s ruling, and argued the retrial needed to focus on recalculating the damage from a certain real estate deal that did not exceed 20.6 billion won.

In 2007, Kim was convicted and received a suspended prison term for abducting and assaulting workers in a karaoke bar. (Yonhap)