Prosecutors indict 5 Lotte family members on corruption

Prosecutors indict 5 Lotte family members on corruption

The prosecution is likely to weigh as much responsibility as possible on the group's current leader Shin Dong-bin, who succeeded his father as chairman after winning a bitter fraternal battle over control of the Korean-Japanese retail conglomerate past year.

Concluding one of the country's biggest corruption probes in years, prosecutors said chairman Shin Dong-bin's actions cost Lotte more than 175 billion won (US$156 million), Bloomberg reports, citing a statement from the prosecutors' office on Wednesday.

After four months of investigation, prosecutors said they made a decision to indict Lotte founder Shin Kyuk-ho, and his two sons, Dong-bin, who heads Lotte Group, and Dong-joo, the former vice president of Tokyo-based Lotte Holdings.

Shin's father, the 93-year-old Lotte Group founder Shin Kyuk-ho, and his brother Shin Dong-joo, will also be charged with offences such as tax evasion and breach of trust, Yonhap reported.

"We will clearly explain the issues that the prosecution deems problematic", a Lotte Group spokesman told Reuters.

The prosecution said that Lotte's founding family and executives together engaged in criminal activities worth 375.5 billion won ($335 million), according to its investigation.

The announcement wraps up the four-month-long investigation into South Korea's No.5 conglomerate.

"We sent all responsible members of the family to courts on charges of embezzling corporate fund, providing illegal supports to subsidies, as well as tax evasions", prosecutors said. The chiefs of Samsung, Hyundai Motor and SK have been found guilty of white color crimes but later received presidential pardons.

The probe derailed Lotte's plan for South Korea's biggest public stock listing to date and then, in August, the company's second-in-command was found dead in an apparent suicide shortly before he was scheduled to be questioned by investigators. It operates South Korea's largest department store, a major hotel chain and food businesses, as well as duty free shops and chemicals business.