|Lee Jay-hyun (Yonhap)|
A Seoul court on Friday sentenced the chairman of food and entertainment conglomerate CJ Group to four years in prison for tax evasion and embezzlement.
Lee Jay-hyun was found guilty of misappropriating 165.7 billion won ($156 million) in company assets to offshore slush funds and dodging taxes in the process.
Seoul Central District Court, however, did not immediately lock up Lee, the country's 10th richest man, saying that he is not a flight risk.
In the same ruling, the court also ordered the 54-year-old tycoon to pay a fine of 26 billion won.
"(Lee) should be sternly held liable for his crime considering its scale as well as his social status and responsibility," judge Kim Yong-kwan said in his ruling.
Prosecutors initially asked the court to sentence the disgraced chairman to six years behind bars and for a fine of 110 billion won.
An investigation into the chief of the country's 14th-largest conglomerate was launched last May amid a government effort to crack down on corporate crimes and rein in family-controlled business groups.
In July, prosecutors indicted Lee with physical detention on charges of creating slush funds worth hundreds of millions of won since the 1990s and dodging taxes in the process. He faced multiple charges of embezzlement, tax fraud and dereliction of duty.
Prosecutors argued that the industry mogul illicitly pocketed funds diverted from listed companies and evaded tax. He further was accused of creating shell companies in foreign countries to avoid tax, prosecutors said.
Lee, after serving less than one month behind bars, was released in August after the court suspended his imprisonment, citing poor health.
The chairman, who underwent an organ transplant, claims that he suffers from multiple illnesses such as Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol in addition to a kidney disease.
The chairman is expected to appeal. (Yonhap)