-Kia Automotive Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo is pardoned by South Korea President Lee Myung-bak, and his 3-year suspended sentence for embezzlement and breach of fiduciary trust has been expunged.
Also pardoned is Kim Dong-jin, vice-chairman ofMotor Co. Ltd., who had been given a 2-year suspended sentence after being convicted on the same charges.
It is the second presidential pardon for Kim, who also was given a 2-year suspended sentence in 2003 for illegally contributing some $10 million during the country’s 2002 presidential campaign. The sentence was pardoned by then-President Roh Moo-hyun, after he took office.
“We welcome today’s announcement and pledge to further strengthen the trust and confidence invested in us by our stakeholders by spurring investment and building world-class automobiles to help the national economy through these difficult and challenging times,” Hyundai-Kia Automotive Group management says in a statement.
But while Chung’s sentence is erased, a pledge made during his trial to donate 1 trillion won ($967 billion) to charity still stands, a spokesman tells Ward’s. Chung set up the Haebichi Foundation in 2007 to make disbursements to various charities. He is funding the foundation with the pledged amount in installments over a 7-year period.
Chung’s father, the late Chung Ju-yung, who founded Hyundai Motor, was convicted of embezzlement from Hyundai Heavy Industries Ltd. to fund his 1992 bid for the South Korean presidency. He also received a presidential pardon.
Chung and Kim were on an amnesty list of 341,000 Korean citizens signed by Lee on Tuesday. Lee knows both men well, having served for many years with Hyundai Engineering and Construction Ltd., where he worked his way up to become CEO. Prior to his election as South Korea’s president, Lee was the mayor of Seoul.
“On the occasion of the 63rd anniversary of the Aug. 15 Liberation Day (from Japanese occupation) and the 60th anniversary of the 1948 founding of the Republic of Korea, President Lee granted a special pardon and reinstatement for disciplined public officials and convicted politicians and businessmen,” Lee’s spokesman says in a statement.
“The president said he wishes to create an atmosphere of social harmony and accelerate his government’s effort to revitalize the Korean economy.”
The spokesman says none of those pardoned was convicted or arrested after Lee took office. Included in the sweeping amnesty are 74 heads of large corporations and some 200 small-business entrepreneurs.