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SK Group head admits to involvement in fund creation

The convicted chairman of SK Group, a major South Korean conglomerate, admitted Monday to having been involved in the establishment of an investment fund created with embezzled company money.

Chey Tae-won, 53, received a four-year prison term in January for embezzling 49.7 billion won (US$44.5 million) in company funds and funneling it into a firm headed by a former executive at SK's telecommunications unit. The funds were used for personal investments in stock futures and options in 2008.

Appearing for his first appeals hearing at the Seoul High Court, the disgraced chairman said "I apologize for making a false statement during a lower court trial."

Chey's defense lawyer, however, said the chairman had been unaware of the withdrawal of the company money for the investment fund.

In response, the prosecution said Chey had clearly committed perjury, vowing to hold him accountable for his statement to prevent the tycoon from "telling a parade of lies."

In the lower court trial, Chey flatly denied all charges against him.

In early February, Chey appealed the lower court ruling. He was imprisoned immediately after the Seoul Central District Court handed down the sentence.

The appeals court hearing coincided with the 60th anniversary of SK Group, the country's third-largest family-controlled conglomerate that has more than 90 affiliates, mainly in the fields of energy and telecommunications. (Yonhap News)