South Korean prosecutors seek arrest warrant for Lotte chairman Shin Dong-bin

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 September, 2016, 2:09pm
UPDATED : Monday, 26 September, 2016, 11:02pm

South Korean prosecutors have requested an arrest warrant for Lotte Group chairman Shin Dong-bin, the retail-to-chemicals group said on Monday, the latest twist in a broad criminal probe into the country’s fifth-largest conglomerate.

A prosecution source with direct knowledge of the matter said prosecutors have sought a Seoul court’s approval for the arrest warrant as part of an investigation into suspected embezzlement and breach of trust.

The person declined to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to media.

The Lotte probe, which began in June, has already scuppered a planned US$4.5 billion initial public offering by the group’s Hotel Lotte arm, hampered potential mergers and acquisition deals and served as the backdrop of the apparent suicide of one of the group’s top executives last month.

The request for an arrest warrant comes after prosecutors questioned Shin, 61, last week. Shin is in South Korea and will fully cooperate with the investigation, a Lotte Group spokesman said, declining to comment on why the warrant had been requested.

Seoul Central District Court is expected to hold a hearing around Wednesday, Sept. 28 to determine the validity of the warrant request, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported.

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Yonhap reported earlier on Monday, citing the office, that prosecutors were seeking an arrest warrant concerning about 200 billion won (US$181 million) in funds in suspected embezzlement and breach of trust.

A spokesman for Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office confirmed the warrant request had been submitted, declining to comment on reasons for doing so.

A judge at the Seoul Central District Court authorised to speak to media about prosecutors’ arrest warrant requests could not be immediately reached for comment.