The Seoul high court postpones a decision on an appeal by Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo to reduce his 3-year jail term to a suspended sentence, a company spokesman confirms.

The court had planned to give its decision July 10 but now says more time is needed due to “complexities and many contentious issues.” A new deadline of July 31 has been set.

Whether the delay bodes well for Chung is unclear.

“We are all hoping the court will suspend his sentence,” the spokesman says. “This is a very critical time.”

Chung has set a goal of making Hyundai Motor Co. Ltd. and Kia Motors Corp., combined, the fifth largest automotive producer in the world.

“The Hyundai Group has new plants being built in the U.S., Czech Republic, India and China, and new models just launching in key world markets,” the spokesman says.

Chung currently is free on bail after a lower court convicted him of embezzlement of company funds and breach of public trust.

Chung’s lawyers argue a prison term not only would damage the Hyundai executive’s reputation but tarnish the image of the company, as well.