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South Korea penalizes SK chairman over 2017 group deal

But scale of fines shows dilemma in regulating economically vital conglomerates

Chey Tae-won has led SK Group, South Korea's third-largest conglomerate, since 1998. (Photo courtesy of SK Group)

SEOUL -- South Korea's antitrust regulator on Wednesday fined Chey Tae-won, the head of the SK conglomerate, 800 million won ($671,000) for accepting a sweetheart investment opportunity from the group's holding company.

The penalty, however, is far smaller than Chey's unrealized gains from the deal, underscoring the difficulties faced by South Korean governments in reining in what have long been seen as abuses by the country's dominant chaebol, or family-run business groups. SK Inc., the conglomerate's holding company, was also fined 800 million won for yielding the chance to Chey.

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