Amid a public outcry, presidential pardons are being discussed to set free some guilty tycoons on Aug. 15 Liberation Day.
President Park Geun-hye had hinted she would pardon some jailed chaebol owners, citing economic difficulties. But industry watchers expect the number could be minimized considering negative public sentiment.
The final list of those receiving a special pardon will be announced later this week.
CJ Group Cairman Lee Jay-hyun
Group Chairman Lee Jay-hyun
is pinning high hopes on the planned pardon. He had been appealing a 32-month sentence for embezzlement of corporate funds worth 160 billion won (US$140 million) in 2013.
Industry watchers say his recent withdrawal of the reappeal is possibly aimed at enabling him to be included in the list.
Among others, Lee suffers from Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a hereditary disease that causes progressive loss of nerves and muscle tissue. He has served only four months in jail, saying he faces difficulties in receiving treatment.
SK Group Vice Chairman Chey Jae-won
Group Vice Chairman Chey Jae-won’s return to management depends on the pardon.
The younger brother of SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won
was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in February 2014 on charges of embezzling 46.5 billion won in company funds. His brother was pardoned by the president last year.
He was released on parole in July, serving most of his jail term. But during the parole period, he is not allowed to become a registered board member.
Orion Group Chairman Tam Chul-kon (left) and Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn
Group Chairman Tam Chul-kon
is also hoping to be pardoned this time. He is facing a suspended prison term of five years after being indicted for embezzling corporate funds worth 30 billion won.
But a group of former Orion executives recently filed a petition to Cheong Wa Dae and the Ministry of Justice, against a pardon for him. Hanwha
Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn
is also serving a five-year suspended sentence after being convicted of embezzlement in 2014. He was charged with causing 150 billion won damages after supporting troubled affiliates.
Last year, he was cited as one of the candidates for a presidential pardon but was not included in the final list.
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org