Top court jails Hanjin’s Choi

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Top court jails Hanjin’s Choi

The Supreme Court on Monday upheld an 18-month prison sentence for Choi Eun-young, former chairwoman of the now-defunct Hanjin Shipping, for unfairly selling her family’s shares in the shipping line using insider information.

The top court also upheld a 1.2 billion won ($1.05 million) fine and 490 million won restitution order originally handed down by an appeals court in May.

Choi was convicted in December last year of offloading her and her two daughters’ shares in Hanjin Shipping after learning creditors wouldn’t give additional liquidity support to the shipping line and that the company would eventually have to file for a creditor-led debt restructuring program. Choi’s family saved about a billion won by selling off shares before stock prices plunged.

The verdict from the first trial included an 18-month jail term as well as a 1.2 billion won fine and 503 million won in additional compensation for her crime. Choi appealed, but the appeals court only reduced the restitution to 490 million won and maintained the original verdict.

Choi became chairwoman of Hanjin Shipping after her husband Cho Soo-ho, the younger brother of Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Yang-ho, passed away in 2006. The former housewife was left to weather the aftermath of a global financial crisis that year.

Choi’s amateur leadership in a difficult market did little to help the company. Instead, she captained Korea’s largest, and the world’s seventh-largest, shipping line into mounting piles of debt.

In 2014, she passed management of the cash-strapped company to her brother-in-law, Cho Yang-ho, who also runs the country’s largest air carrier Korean Air, but he couldn’t save the company from going bankrupt.

After filing for court receivership in 2016, Hanjin Shipping vanished into history in February last year.

Choi, however, is still chairwoman of Eusu Holdings, formerly Hanjin Shipping Holdings. When she transferred management rights of the troubled shipping line to Cho Yang-ho in 2014, she took several marine logistics subsidiaries under the holding company and later changed the name to Eusu Holdings.

On Monday, shares of Eusu Holdings fell 5.31 percent to close at 6,060 won in Seoul’s main bourse Kospi.

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