Court quashes jail term for Hyundai chief

Court quashes jail term for Hyundai chief


Seoul: A South Korean appeals court on 6 September quashed a three-year prison sentence imposed on Hyundai Automotive Group chairman Chung Mong-Koo over a multi-million dollar slush fund.

The Seoul High Court imposed a suspended sentence instead and ordered him to undertake community service — including delivering speeches on the need for ethics in business.

Suspending the original five-year jail sentence, the court told Chung to honour his earlier pledge to donate around $1 billion dollars to charity.

Chung, 69, was also ordered to deliver speeches and write articles on the need for businessmen to comply with the law.

Chung had been sentenced in February for breach of trust and embezzling $90 billion won ($97 million) in company funds through fraudulent accounting. He had been free on bail pending appeal.

Prosecutors accused the Chung family of raising the slush fund through a Hyundai Motor unit to bribe government officials, politicians and bankers in return for business favours.

The Hyundai Automotive Group, which includes affiliate Kia Motors, is the world’s sixth largest. It controls 70 per cent of the South Korean auto market and accounts for 5.4 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.

“The court has been agonising over whether to put the accused in jail or keep him out of prison," said chief judge Lee Jae-Hong.

“But in consideration of the huge economic impact that could result from imprisonment, it decided to suspend the sentence."