Lotte Corp. on Wednesday refuted mounting claims that its Lotte World Tower, the nation‘s highest building, will not be able to open within the year as initially planned.
“Although it is true that Lotte Group as a whole is currently facing some issues, Lotte Corp. is not under investigation. There will be no problem in completing the tower within the year,” a company spokesman told The Korea Herald.
|The Lotte World Tower under construction (Yonhap)|
According to the spokesman, the 123-story tower is currently 91.2 percent complete, and on track for completion by year’s end as originally scheduled.
Local reports had raised concerns that the tower’s construction, a longtime wish of Lotte founder Shin Kyuk-ho, was suffering setbacks as the conglomerate has been undergoing a hard-hitting probe for embezzlement and illicit stock and real estate transactions over the past few months.
In addition to the probe, Lotte Corp. CEO Roh Byeong-yong is currently absent from his post. Roh was taken into custody by prosecutors in June over toxic humidifier sanitizers sold by Lotte Mart when Roh was heading up the supermarket chain.
The spokesman did acknowledge that there may be some delays in carrying out plans for moving key Lotte offices into the tower as planned.
“It may require some more time to move the Lotte policy headquarters or the founder’s offices into the world tower, but the building itself should be complete by the end of the year. We hope to be able to open it to the public then,” he said.
Lotte had planned to move the group’s policy headquarters and the offices of Lotte Corp. and Lotte Asset Development to the 14th to 16th floors, and the offices of Shin Kyuk-ho to the 114th floor of the tower.
However, the scrutiny of the ongoing investigation makes it difficult for those companies to pursue a large-scale move.
Another issue is receiving government approval regarding fire and building safety. Although it would take most buildings about a month to receive certification, industry watchers estimate that it could take up to three times that period for the Lotte World Tower because of its sheer size, unprecedented in Korea.
The process of receiving certification is expected to begin next month. The spokesman said that “assuming the certification process goes well without any issues,” the building should be open before next year.
By Won Ho-jung (firstname.lastname@example.org)