Taekwang chief, mother indicted

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Taekwang chief, mother indicted

The Seoul Western District Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday it indicted Taekwang Group Chairman Lee Ho-jin on charges of embezzlement and breach of trust, wrapping up a 111-day investigation of the group.

The office also indicted the chairman’s mother, Lee Sun-ah, and five other senior officers of the group without detention.

According to the investigation, Lee and the others allegedly embezzled about 140 billion won ($124 million) of the company’s funds in various ways: 53.6 billion won by manipulating sales records; 95.5 billion won by selling stakes of two Taekwang subsidiaries at deliberately cheap prices and lending large sums of company money without collateral to a construction company owned by the chairman; selling the company’s products privately; and pocketing the wages of employees.

The prosecutors also said that Lee allegedly raised a slush fund of about 440 billion won, which includes the money allegedly embezzled, by using 7,000 bank accounts operated under other people’s names and managing real estate and stock in his employees’ names.

He allegedly used 192 billion won of the slush fund for private purposes, such as paying taxes and supporting family members.

Lee, who owns cable TV company Tbraod, also received a stake of CJ Media in exchange for giving the entertainment company a profitable TV channel, prosecutors said, and he earned about 25 billion won from the stake in CJ Media, prosecutors said.

“The charges against Lee could lead him to be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison,” an official of the office said. “We must end the shameful affairs of conglomerates, such as holding bank accounts in other people’s names, by punishing a company as example.

“In 1997, when the group was carrying out a large-scale restructuring and firing its employees, Lee and his mother continued to pocket funds of the company,” the official said. “And they used the money for their private purposes, such as paying taxes.”

But the prosecutors failed to charge Lee with lobbying political figures in an aim to revise the former broadcasting law in 2008, which prohibited him from buying more cable TV channels, as they suspected.

The prosecutors explained that they couldn’t find enough evidence, although they investigated some government offices.

By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joonagang.co.kr]

Related Korean Article [중앙일보]

1400억원대 횡령·배임 혐의 이호진 태광 회장 구속기소
검찰, 비자금 의혹 수사 발표
이선애씨 등 6명 불구속 기소
정·관계 로비는 못 밝혀 ‘반쪽 수사’

태광그룹 비자금 의혹을 수사해온 서울서부지검은 1400억원대의 횡령·배임 혐의로 이호진(사진) 회장을 구속 기소했다고 31일 밝혔다.

이 회장의 어머니인 이선애 태광산업 상무와 오용일 태광그룹 부회장, 진헌진 티브로드 전 대표 등 그룹 전·현직 고위 간부 6명은 같은 혐의로 불구속 기소했다. 지난해 10월 13일 수사에 착수한 지 111일 만이다. 그러나 정·관계 등 로비 의혹에 대해선 밝혀내지 못했다.

검찰에 따르면 이 회장 등은 무자료 거래와 회계 부정처리, 제품 빼돌리기, 임금 허위 지급, 직원 피복비 착복 등 수법으로 회사 돈 536억여원을 횡령한 혐의를 받고 있다. 또 계열사가 보유한 한국도서보급㈜ 주식과 골프연습장을 이 회장 측에 헐값으로 팔게 하고, 이 회장이 소유한 골프장 건설업체를 지원하기 위해 무담보 대출을 지시해 그룹에 모두 955억여원의 손실을 떠넘긴 혐의(특정경제범죄가중처벌법상 배임)도 있다. …

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