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Lotte founder placed under guardianship

All Headlines 17:08 August 31, 2016

SEOUL, Aug. 31 (Yonhap) -- A Seoul court on Wednesday designated a nonprofit subsidiary of a local law firm as guardian of the founder of the country's retail giant Lotte Group, saying he lacks the ability to make business decisions due to illness and old age.

The decision by Judge Kim Sung-woo at the Seoul Family Court was made about eight months after Shin Kyuk-ho's younger sister filed a petition amid a bitter feud between his two sons over the managerial control of the business conglomerate.

While the elder son, Dong-joo, claimed the Lotte Group founder handpicked him as the successor, Dong-bin insisted that his father was unable to make reasonable judgments due to mental health problems. The prolonged family feud virtually came to an end after the founder's second son and incumbent chief won shareholder support in March to tighten his grip on the group.

Wednesday's ruling effectively backs Dong-bin's argument that the 94-year-old lacks the mental capacity to make meaningful decisions, citing Shin's medical records and statements made during the hearings.

"As a severe conflict is still going on among Shin's children over his property and the control of the group, there is a high possibility that assigning one of them as a guardian would only prolong the feud," it said, explaining why it designated the law firm instead.

The Sun, led by Lee Tae-woon, former chief of the Seoul High Court, is a subsidiary of law firm One Law Partners, also led by Lee, that handles matters of public interest.

The court, meanwhile, restricted its authority given to the guardian, instead of giving it full discretion. The company will be able to represent Shin within the boundary permitted by the court.

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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