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Appellate court approves 7-year sentence for late Hanbo founder's son

National 15:01 January 22, 2021

SEOUL, Jan. 22 (Yonhap) -- An appellate court on Friday upheld a lower court's seven-year prison sentence for a son of Chung Tae-soo, the late founder of the now-defunct Hanbo Group, who was convicted of embezzlement and other crimes last year after 21 years on the run abroad.

The Seoul High Court also ordered Chung Han-keun, the fourth son of the late Hanbo founder, to forfeit 40.13 billion won (US$32.6 million) after finding him guilty of embezzlement, illicit capital flight and violating the foreign exchange law.

The junior Chung received the same sentence from the Seoul Central District Court in April last year.

"The district court's conviction of the defendant on criminal charges was not wrong and the amount of its sentence seems to be appropriate," the appellate court said.

The 56-year-old Chung was arrested in Panama and extradited to South Korea in June 2019, 21 years after he fled abroad in 1998 to avoid a prosecution probe on his criminal charges.

He is accused of embezzling 32 billion won by underreporting that the sale value of a Hanbo company's 9 million shares in a Russian oil company was $25.2 million when it was actually worth $57.9 million in 1997. He was also charged with taking the embezzled money out of the country without permission from authorities, in violation of the Foreign Exchange Control Act.

Chung's earlier conviction by the Seoul district court came 23 years after he allegedly committed the financial crimes during the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s, and 12 years after he was indicted in 2008 on those charges.

Hanbo Group, once the 14th-largest conglomerate here, declared bankruptcy in January 1997 due to mounting debt. Hanbo's founder Chung died in December 2018 in Ecuador, where he was living after fleeing South Korea while standing trial on embezzlement charges.

This file photo shows Chung Han-keun arriving at Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, on June 22, 2019. (Yonhap)


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