Shinhan Chairman acquitted by Supreme Court
The chairman of Shinhan Financial Group was acquitted by the Supreme Court of unfairly interfering in hiring processes at Shinhan Bank.
In a Thursday hearing presided over by Chief Justice Lee Dong-won, the Supreme Court upheld a ruling by the Seoul High Court acquitting Chairman Cho Yong-byoung of business obstruction and violation of the Employment Equality Act.
Cho and seven Shinhan Bank human resources officers were accused of manipulating the job application process at the bank between early 2013 to the end of 2016 to give preference to applicants with personal connections to bank executives, as well as the offspring of Shinhan Bank executives and department heads.
Cho was found guilty by the Seoul Eastern District Court in his first trial in January 2021 and handed down a suspended sentence of six months in jail. The district court ruled Cho guilty of meddling in recruitment by informing the bank’s human resources department of personal information of three specific applicants during his tenure as president of Shinhan Bank.
However, the court did not convict him of a charge of discriminating against women applicants, deeming that the evidence presented didn't prove the charge.
Cho appealed his case to the Seoul High Court, where he was found not guilty in November.
The Seoul High Court said that two of the three applicants whom the district court deemed to have been hired due to Cho’s interference could have been legitimately selected through the established evaluation process. The Seoul High Court also decided the remaining candidate could not have benefited from Cho’s involvement.
In its verdict, the Seoul High Court declared that “clear definitions of fraudulent recruitment and unfair selection must first be established.”
The high court also declared a higher standard than the district court for establishing that fraudulent recruitment had taken place. “If a successful candidate has undergone the same process of evaluation as other applicants, they cannot be regarded as having been fraudulently recruited.”
Other human resources officers at the bank who had been indicted along with Cho and been given fines or suspended prison terms had their convictions overturned or sentences reduced on appeal.
Prosecutors appealed after the Seoul High Court acquitted the defendants, but the Supreme Court upheld the rulings Thursday.
BY MICHAEL LEE [email@example.com]