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Lotte Chairman spared jail by Supreme Court ruling

Oct 18,2019
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Shin Dong-bin


The Supreme Court on Thursday allowed Lotte Chairman Shin Dong-bin to stay out of jail, upholding a lower court conviction that he bribed ousted President Park Geun-hye — and its suspended jail sentence of 30 months.

Korea’s highest court concluded the three-year court battle by rejecting appeals from both Shin and the prosecution and upheld the Seoul High Court’s ruling, allowing Shin to remain out of jail.

The 64-year-old head of the country’s fifth-largest conglomerate was indicted in 2016 on charges of bribing Park through her close friend Choi Soon-sil. He was accused of giving 7 billion won ($5.9 million) to a nonprofit foundation controlled by Choi in order to win a lucrative duty-free deal.

Shin was jailed after the initial conviction in February 2018. The Seoul Central District Court sentenced him to two years and six months in prison and detained him in the courtroom immediately after sentencing. The court also fined Shin 7 billion won.

An appeals court, however, freed him from prison in October last year, handing down a suspended prison term and canceling the 7 billion won fine.

Although it found Shin guilty of bribery, the Seoul High Court said his offering of bribes was a passive act. “The president demanded the money first, so he passively accepted,” the court said at the time. “It is hard to hold him entirely accountable for giving the bribes when his freedom in decision-making was restricted,” the court said.

Shin was released from jail after 234 days.

BY SER MYO-JA ser.myoja@joongang.co.kr