Lotte group chairman to be summoned by prosecutors this week

State prosecutors said Sunday they will summon Shin Dong-bin, the chairman of the embattled South Korean retail giant Lotte, this week to undergo questioning over corruption allegations involving the conglomerate.

The Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office said the business tycoon will be questioned as a suspect on charges of embezzlement and breach of trust on Tuesday.

Prosecutors here have been looking into Lotte's alleged wrongdoings since they launched full-fledged raids into the group's headquarters in June.

The 61-year-old chairman is suspected of orchestrating a series of shady deals between the group's affiliates in the process of mergers and acquisitions, as well as selling the assets of certain affiliates to others at below market prices, according to prosecutors.

The investigators are also examining if he can be criminally charged with embezzlement on the suspicion of receiving some 10 billion won (US$8.88 million) in yearly stipends just by being listed as a board member of the group's Japanese affiliates.

Prosecutors said they will also quiz the chairman over whether he was involved in alleged slush funds valued at some 30 billion won created by the group's construction arm over the last 10 years.

Following the prosecution's announcement, Lotte Group said Shin will appear before the prosecutors' office as scheduled and will fully cooperate with the investigation.

The summons comes about two weeks after prosecutors interrogated Shin's father and group founder Shin Kyuk-ho over similar allegations.

Lotte, which has sprawling businesses in both South Korea and Japan, has been gripped by a series of scandals since last year, including a bitter feud between Shin Dong-bin and his older brother for managerial control.

The prolonged family feud has effectively been resolved after the founder's second son and incumbent chief won shareholder support in March to tighten his grip on the business group

Source: Yonhap News Agency.

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