The Korea Herald

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Supreme Court confirms 6-yr sentence for Eastar Jet founder over embezzlement

By Yonhap

Published : April 27, 2023 - 11:50

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A promotional image of Eastar Jet's aircraft (Eastar Jet) A promotional image of Eastar Jet's aircraft (Eastar Jet)

The Supreme Court on Thursday finalized a six-year prison sentence for the founder of South Korean budget carrier Eastar Jet Co. convicted of embezzlement of company funds and breach of trust.

Eastar founder and former Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Sang-jik was indicted for causing about 43 billion won ($32 million) in losses to the airline by underselling company shares to a subsidiary owned by his children in 2015.

He was also charged with embezzling 5.36 billion won from Eastar and its affiliates. In addition, Lee was indicted for causing a loss of about 5.6 billion won to Eastar affiliates by arbitrarily raising or downgrading the value of bonds held by them, or paying off their long-term debts earlier than scheduled from 2016 to 2018.

The top court also confirmed a prison sentence of 3 1/2 years for a nephew of Lee, who served as head of Eastar Jet's finance team, and a suspended imprisonment of two years for former Eastar Jet CEO Choi Jong-gu. The nephew and Choi were indicted on charges of collusion.

The 60-year-old Lee defected from the Democratic Party in September 2020 amid controversy over unpaid wages, mass layoffs and corruption allegations surrounding his company and family.

He was stripped of his National Assembly seat in May last year after the Supreme Court upheld a suspended prison sentence handed down by lower courts to him for election law violations.

Lee has been standing a separate trial on charges of involvement in corruption in the company's employee recruitment process. (Yonhap)