Courts come down hard on chaebol-controlling families

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Courts come down hard on chaebol-controlling families

In the aftermath of “economic democratization” pledges by major candidates in last year’s presidential election, owners of chaebol - once practically immune from going to jail thanks to their “contribution to the national economy” regardless of their violations - realized in 2013 that they are no longer safe from spending time behind bars.

At SK Group, the country’s third-largest conglomerate, Chairman Chey Tae-won was handed a four-year jail term for embezzlement. And Chey’s younger brother, Jae-won, vice chairman of the group, was taken to prison straight from the courtroom in September after receiving a sentence of three and a half years. The Chey brothers were charged with embezzling 46.5 billion won ($44 million) in group funds.

Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-yeon, 61, is serving a three-year prison term. With his case back in the appellate court, he has been temporarily released due to ill health.

Lee Jay-hyun, chairman of CJ Group, also was placed behind bars in July after he was indicted on charges of massive tax evasion and embezzlement. Lee is standing trial with his confinement suspended because of poor health.

Other executives in court custody are Lee Ho-jin, former Taekwang Group chairman, and his mother, Lee Seon-ae, former executive director of Taekwang Group; Koo Cha-won, LIG Group chairman; and Koo Bon-sang, vice chairman of LIG Nex1.

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