Shin’s chief secretary quits over law credentials

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Shin’s chief secretary quits over law credentials

Na Seung-gi - Lotte Group founder Shin Kyuk-ho’s chief secretary - has been replaced amid controversy surrounding his credentials to practice law.

The replacement has been made a month after Na was appointed to assist the Lotte patriarch.

According to SDJ Corporation on Sunday, which is owned by Shin Dong-joo, the eldest son of Shin Kyuk-ho, Na resigned from his post on Nov. 16. citing personal reasons.

The former chief secretary was embroiled in controversy last month when Na described himself as a lawyer in a press release. However, the Korea Bar Association confirmed he was not a registered attorney.

Na, who graduated from Minnesota State University Law School, later explained that it was a misunderstanding that he was actually a foreign legal consultant for a firm in Korea. But it was also found that he had no license to practice law in the U.S. The Seoul Bar Association on Nov. 20 sued Na for violating the law on foreign legal consulting to the Seoul’s prosecutors’ office.

Under current law those who have passed the national bar examination have to register at the regional bar association. Those who have gained their license to practice law overseas must register as foreign legal consultants. Na had not registered in either case.

This raised speculation that the new chief secretary of Shin Kyuk-ho was posing as a lawyer. The SDJ Corporation later confirmed that Na was not a lawyer.

SDJ Corporation emphasized Na’s career when he was first introduced to the public.

SDJ Corporation on Oct. 20 announced that they have picked Na as chief secretary to Shin Kyuk-ho through a press release which introduced him as a veteran lawyer who gained his law degrees from Japan’s Keio University and Minnesota State University and worked at DW Partners legal firm.

The press release said Lotte founder Shin Kyuk-ho personally picked Na for his expertise in law and his communication skills. Na at the time replaced Lee Il-min, the current Lotte Group executive.

The replacement of the chief secretary came as the conflict between older brother Shin Dong-joo and younger brother and Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin has been ramping up while a court battle is only a week away.

The brothers, started a legal battle over management control of one of Korea’s biggest retail giants at the Seoul District Court on Oct. 28.

The feud has expanded to include current executives of Lotte affiliates as SDJ Corporation has been claiming that Shin Dong-bin and the Lotte executives not only have failed to properly report the business performances of Lotte Group to founder Shin Kyuk-ho but has also falsified sales data on losses made in China.

SDJ Corporation on Sunday said it has selected veteran banker Kwon Jong-soon, who is a former executive at Korea Exchange Bank, as chief secretary to Shin Kyuk-ho.

BY LEE HO-JEONG, LEE HYUN-TAEK [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]


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