Criminal Convictions Finally Leading to Prison Sentences for Chaebol Leaders

Chey Jae-Won, younger brother of Chey Tae-Won (the former chairman of SK Group that was convicted of embezzling USD 43 million and sentenced to four years in prison earlier this year) just had his acquittal overturned last week by the Seoul High Court.  Jae-Won had, until now, managed to avoid experiencing the same fate as his older brother by convincing the Court that he had little to do with his brother’s fraudulent conversion of SK Group’s assets.  Now, Jae-Won is looking at a 3 1/2 year prison sentence that almost matches his older brother’s 4.

Jae-Won’s conviction comes just a week after Koo Cha-Won (former chairman of LIG Group) and his oldest son were themselves slapped with three-year prison sentences for issuing USD 198 million of fraudulent company bonds.

It has been a common complaint amongst many Koreans that chaebol leadership is never held to account in the court system.  Prior convictions of Chaebol leaders usually just led to suspended sentences or other menial punishments.  Court opinions in those cases were often full of praise for the convicted leaders’ contributions to Korea’s economic growth.  Is it possible that under Park Geun-Hye’s administration, things are starting to change? 

What do you think? Do you think Korea will finally get serious about punishing corrupt chaebol leadership?

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