The South Korean Supreme Court is set to hand down a ruling on Thursday on a high-profile embezzlement case involving the two brothers leading the country’s third-largest family conglomerate, court officials said.
A lower court had sentenced SK Group chairman Chey Tae-won to four years behind bars for embezzling nearly 45 billion won ($42.2 million) from SK Group companies. His younger brother, Chey Jae-won, was sentenced to three years and six months in jail for collusion.
The case has attracted keen media attention as a host of local conglomerate chiefs have received suspended sentences recently. In passing sentences on Hanwha Group chairman Kim Seung-youn and LIG chairman Koo Cha-won, the court cited their contribution to the country’s economic recovery.
SK Group officials appeared cautiously optimistic. “It is true that we have high hopes,” Yang Sung-wook, the group’s public relations official, told The Korea Herald.
But the group is aware that the SK case is different from other rulings involving chaebol owners, he said.
Similarly optimistic views were floated when CJ Group chairman Lee Jay-hyun was found guilty of misappropriating nearly 166 billion won in company assets and trying to evade taxes. But a Seoul district court sentenced Lee to four years in jail on Feb. 14. CJ lawyers said he would appeal with a higher court.
SK Group’s two leaders were indicted in December 2012 for taking hundreds of millions of won from SK Telecom and SK C&C’s assets to make personal investments in stock futures and options in 2008.
Chey Tae-won, the older of the two, was detained in January last year after a Seoul court sentenced him to four years in prison. An appeals court upheld the ruling in September last year.
Chey Jae-won was acquitted by a Seoul court but was detained after being sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison in an appeals court.
SK, established in 1953, runs 92 subsidiaries and affiliates. The two brothers are the sons of the late founder Chey John-hyun.
By Suk Gee-hyun (firstname.lastname@example.org)