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Politics

South Korea top court upholds Lotte chairman's suspended prison sentence

SEOUL (Kyodo) -- South Korea's Supreme Court on Thursday upheld a suspended prison sentence against the chairman of South Korea's Lotte Group over a bribery scandal that led to the ousting in 2017 of the country's then president.

In October 2018, the Seoul High Court overturned a lower court ruling that sentenced Shin Dong Bin to 30 months in prison, by suspending the sentence for four years.

The original Seoul Central District Court ruling in February 2018 found Shin guilty of giving 7 billion won ($5.9 million) in bribes to Choi Soon Sil, a close friend of then President Park Geun Hye, to secure favors including a license for duty-free shops.

Shin was imprisoned immediately after the district court ruling. But in October the same year, the Seoul High Court reduced his sentence and released him from prison.

The appeals court said at the time that it took into account the possibility that Shin felt he had to offer bribes to Park for fear not doing so would affect the overall running of the conglomerate.

Shin did not appear for Thursday's ruling. Lotte issued a statement later apologizing over the case.

Shin, who also has the Japanese name of Akio Shigemitsu, is the second son of Lotte Group founder Shin Kyuk Ho and effectively serves

Park was ousted in March 2017 over a corruption scandal that engulfed the country. She was subsequently convicted and incarcerated, but the Supreme Court in August sent back to a lower court for retrial a case in which she was sentenced to 25 years in prison, in a move that could lead to a heavier sentence.

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