Orion boss misused funds, gets jail time

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Orion boss misused funds, gets jail time

The chairman of the confectionery manufacturer Orion Group has been sentenced to three years in prison for dipping his hand in the company cookie jar and misappropriating nearly 30 billion won ($26.25 million).

Dam Chul-gon, 56, Orion chairman, was detained May 26 and indicted in June on charges of misappropriating nearly 30 billion won of corporate funds. According to prosecutors, Dam bought expensive artwork with corporate funds and kept the art as his own.

According to Judge Han Chang-hun of the Seoul Central District Court, the court determined that Dam bought the paintings to decorate his own home.

“Since the time of purchase of the artwork, Dam chose art that was appropriate for his wife’s estate and kept it there for seven years,” the judge said. Furthermore, during tax investigations, Dam indicated that “the artwork would be moved to the company training center,” showing that he knew he was doing something illegal.

The judge said that because Dam is a “chairman of a large enterprise” he is “responsible for strong ethics and management skills.”

“He is highly to blame for failing to manage the group in compliance with the law and to maintain transparency,” the judge said.

Dam also bought luxury cars and dealt a massive loss to Orion by selling a Hong Kong-affiliate of the group at a below-market price.

Hong Song-won, head of Gallery Seomi, and an Orion executive surnamed Cho were sentenced to two and half years in prison for helping Dam launder the funds.

By Koo Hui-lyung [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]
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