Chaebol’s greedy lobbyLotte Group’s family members have been implicated in the prosecution’s corruption probe on Jung Woon-ho, the chief executive of cosmetics brand Nature Republic. Prosecutors have raided Lotte duty free shops and home of Shin Young-ja, executive director of the Lotte Scholarship Foundation and eldest daughter of the founder of Lotte Group, upon suspicion that Shin has received more than 2 billion won ($1.69 million) from Jeong in return for placing Nature Republic shops in Lotte duty-free outlets in Seoul.
The allegations underscore the typical excesses and greed of chaebol dynasty members. Billions of won were handed over to secure a favorable location in duty-free shops and Shin’s son was given a consulting job at Nature Public to run shops in Lotte duty-free outlets. Shin had full authority over licensing retail outlets in Lotte Cinemas until three years ago. She would have pocketed hugely using her power then as well.
The chaebol family has kept up self-serving business practices as if they were their prerogatives. The owner family members all have gotten their fat share out of Hyundai Merchant Marine and Hanjin Shipping during their heyday and jumped ship when they went sinking.
The Fair Trade Commission accused Hyundai Group of favoritism as the group funneled steady workload to its affiliates run by relatives of the group’s chairwoman Hyun Jung-eun. Hanjin Group is under similar suspicion. Former Hanjin Shipping chairwoman Choi Eun-yeong is also under prosecution probes for dumping her shareholdings in Hanjin Shipping before it sought creditors’ workout program using insider information. These are just a few latest examples of excesses from the chaebol family.
The chaebol’s blatant irregularities to augment wealth by using their companies as personal piggy banks have built public angst and hostility towards the chaebol sector. The society must strengthen watch and supervisory mechanism on the chaebol community.
Prosecutors must find out if other companies had been paying up to Lotte family members to buy placements in duty free shops.
JoongAng Ilbo, Jun. 6, Page 22
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