Lotte family trial to begin over corporate crime allegations
SEOUL, March 20 (Yonhap) -- Retail giant Lotte Group's chairman Shin Dong-bin and his four other family members, all indicted last October for alleged embezzlement and other crimes, are set to show up together in their first trial at a Seoul court Monday.
Chairman Shin; his older brother and former vice chairman of Tokyo-based Lotte Holdings, Shin Dong-joo; and their father and group founder Shin Kyuk-ho will appear at the Seoul Central District Court at 2 p.m.
Lotte founder Shin Kyuk-ho (L), and his second son and group chairman Shin Dong-bin (Yonhap)
After a four-month investigation into the country's fifth-largest conglomerate, prosecutors indicted the three people five months ago on multiple charges, including embezzlement and breach of trust, involving some tens of billions of won of corporate assets.
The group founder's daughter Shin Young-ja and his third wife, Seo Mi-kyung, will also stand trial on charges of tax evasion.
The Shin family's disgraceful court appearance comes as Lotte Group, particularly its business in China, has been severely battered by Beijing's economic retaliations against South Korea for allowing the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system. Lotte offered a golf course in southeast South Korea to be used as the missile site.
Separately, Lotte Group has been embroiled in the allegations of bribery involving former President Park Geun-hye, as the conglomerate is accused of providing a huge sum of money to two foundations allegedly controlled by her arrested friend Choi Soon-sil.
It is rare in South Korea for key members of a conglomerate owner family to stand trial together.
Notably, it will be the first public appearance by Seo as the former actress and model has been avoiding media since the scandal broke. She was put on trial without going through a face-to-face interrogation by prosecutors as she rejected multiple summons.
Lotte founder Shin Kyuk-ho and his third wife Seo Mi-kyung (Yonhap)
The court earlier warned that it will issue an arrest warrant if she does not attend the hearing, which is mandatory for all defendants.
Shin Young-ja was sentenced to three years in prison by the same court in January for embezzlement and breach of trust, in the first ruling against members of the family running the business group.
Along with the family, a number of former and current executives of the group will stand trial for their alleged involvement in the irregularities.