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Business circle welcomes pardon for convicted businessmen

All News 12:11 August 12, 2008

SEOUL, Aug. 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's business lobby groups welcomed a special pardon for key convicted business leaders on Tuesday, saying the move will help encourage the business community to redouble its efforts at job creation and capital spending.

President Lee Myung-bak's sweeping special pardon of convicted South Korean business leaders includes Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo, SK Energy Chairman Choi Tae-won and Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-yeon.

"We welcome the special pardon," the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI) said in a statement. "Businessmen will make more efforts to generate more jobs and boost capital spending for economic growth."

The Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) said the special pardon will also lead to boosting transparent corporate governance and ethical management.

The presidential office said the move is aimed at revitalizing the Korean economy and helping conglomerates increase employment via a massive amnesty of convicted businesspeople.

President Lee, a former star executive at Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co., took office in February as the nation's first leader from a corporate background.

Hyundai Chairman Chung was convicted of embezzlement and breach of duty in February of last year, but his three-year prison term was suspended for five years and he is now free to run the automobile conglomerate.

Hanwha's Kim was accused of using his personal security guards to beat up off-duty bar workers in a sensational revenge attack after his son was hurt in a scuffle earlier this year. Kim's jail sentence was also suspended.

SK Energy's Choi was convicted of fraud five years ago, and his jail sentence was also suspended. SK Global Co., an affiliate of SK Energy, misstated 2001 earnings by 1.5 trillion won (US$1.43 billion).

Former Samsung Group chairman Lee Kun-hee, who recently received a suspended jail sentence for tax evasion and is appealing the ruling, was not included on the list of those to be pardoned because his sentence has yet to be determined.

Most of the convicted businessmen to be pardoned are already out on bail after receiving suspended jail terms on convictions including bribery and accounting fraud.


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