Lotte heir loses suit against hotel units over dismissal from board

SEOUL-- A Seoul court on Thursday turned down the claim by the eldest son of the founder of South Korean retail giant Lotte Group that he was unfairly removed from the boards of two Lotte hotel units.

Shin Dong-joo, former vice chairman of Japan-based Lotte Holdings and eldest son of Lotte founder Shin Kyuk-ho, filed litigation against Hotel Lotte and Busan Lotte Hotel last year seeking 879 million won (US$820,730) in damages because he was wrongfully dismissed and it tainted Lotte's brand image.

In September 2015, the two hotel units voted for his dismissal at their board meetings, saying that he was no longer deemed fit to run the companies as an executive.

But Shin claimed that the dismissal was plotted by his younger brother Shin Dong-bin, current Lotte chairman, as part of a plan to block him from engaging in the business so that he could fully take the control of the conglomerate.

The court did not agree with the plaintiff's argument, saying that there are reasonable grounds to believe that he had not been performing his tasks as a board of director. Shin had already been fired by Lotte Japan, and he made disparaging remarks about his brother in interviews with Japanese media.

"It should be considered adequate to relieve a person of his post if certain situations happen and become an obstacle for him to execute tasks as an executive," the court said.

In the interviews, the elder Shin claimed that he was almost kicked out of the management because his brother stirred up bad blood between him and his father and that he always downplayed his achievement in China and Korea.

The Seoul court judged that the interviews were arranged by Shin to recoup his leadership at Lotte.

The two brothers have been in a fight lasting years over the succession at the fifth-largest conglomerate in Korea, although the chairman Shin is said to have seized full control.

Source: Yonhap News Agency