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Business

Ousted Lotte brother seeks return to power

Shin Dong-joo says chairman's bribery charge, mismanagement imperil company

Shin Dong-joo speaks to the media in Tokyo on April 21.

TOKYO -- Shin Dong-joo, the former vice chairman of Tokyo-based Lotte Holdings and eldest son of the founder of the South Korean-Japanese conglomerate, said Friday that he will propose returning to the board of directors at a June's shareholders meeting.

The announcement comes on the heels of a decision by South Korean prosecutors to indict without detention Shin's estranged brother and current group Chairman Shin Dong-bin, alleging he paid bribes to former South Korean President Park Geun-hye and her associates.

Dong-joo said his proposal calls for the election of four new members, including himself, to Lotte Holdings' board of directors.

This is his third attempt to reshuffle the management since he was ousted in 2015. His previous two attempts were rejected as his company, Kojyunsya, the largest shareholder in Lotte Holdings, owns only around 28% of the company.

Speaking at a news conference in Tokyo on Friday, Dong-joo said: "Considering the ownership structure, it may be difficult [to pass the shareholder resolution this year]." But, he stressed, the situation has changed in the past year because his brother has been charged in multiple criminal cases. "Employees [who hold large stakes in the company] are also concerned about the group's future. They may agree to my proposal," Dong-joo said.

Concerning the overall operations of the Lotte group, Dong-joo said his brother had invested too heavily in China, a move he claims was a failure. He said the group should diversify its operations geographically into areas such as the U.S. and Southeast Asia.

"It is difficult for my brother to focus on Lotte's management," Dong-joo said, because he may be imprisoned.

Dong-joo, however, has also been indicted in South Korea for embezzlement. On Friday, his lawyer insisted that "the significance [of the charge] is totally different [from the charge his brother is facing]."

Lotte group was founded in Japan by Shin Kyuk-ho, later growing to do business in South Korea. Dong-joo handled the Japanese operations, while second son Dong-bin ran the South Korean business. The group's dual leadership structure ended in January 2015, when the founder dismissed Dong-joo from management, with Dong-bin becoming the sole leader.

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