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Hyundai Chairman Free on 1B Won Bail

Posted June. 29, 2006 03:21,   


Chung Mong-koo, the chairman of Hyundai Kia Motors, granted bail on June 28.

He has been behind bars for 61 days, since he was accused of damaging over 427 billion won of the world-leading motor company by creating slush funds of 120 billion won on charges of embezzlement and breach of trust according to the Additional Punishment Law on specific crimes.

Mr. Chung was hospitalized in Severance Hospital shortly after being freed from the Seoul prison. He is set to stay there until his health condition gets better.

The criminal court in Seoul Central District Court has granted him on bail of one billion won.

The court said, “Chung has acknowledged his wrongdoings in principle regarding embezzlement and slush funds creation before this court. He, moreover, is not likely to flee or destroy relevant evidence in that the prosecution has already investigated and indicted related figures such as Kim Dong Jin, the vice president of Hyundai Motor.

“This court also comprehensively considered the concern that a vacuum at the top for the top automaker would hurt the national economy, Mr. Chung’s defense that Hyundai Motor for the long run should have some time to be restructured transparently, and his bad health condition,” the court added.

The head of Hyundai Motor is allowed to move around to commute from his house in Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu, Seoul for ordinary business activities. He has to ask court a permission in order to travel for more than three days, go overseas, or to move out of his place.

“We will thoroughly look into any permission on his overseas trip and ensure it will not disturb this courts decision process. And we will proceed with the trial thoroughly to charge him with legal responsibility for his wrongdoings if proven guilty.” The court said.

Chai Dong-wook, a prosecutor in the Central Investigation Division at the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office, said, “I personally assume that the court made that decision after due deliberation. I do not think the court decision can be judged by prosecutors.”

Nevertheless, the Central Division submitted a written opinion to the court, objecting to free him on bail on June 1 after Chung appealed to the court for his bailout on May 26.

Hyundai Motor announced in its statement that “we appreciate the court’s decision and we will cooperate sincerely with any further investigations on this matter. Mr. Chung is to play his role in vitalizing the economy and in transparent corporate governance as soon as he recovers.”

Ji-Seong Jeon Tae-Hoon Lee verso@donga.com jefflee@donga.com