Seoul – Four members of the family who control South Korea’s troubled retail giant Lotte, including its 93-year-old founder, went on trial Monday for embezzlement, tax evasion and fraud.
The proceedings against company chairman Shin Dong-Bin, 61, his brother, sister and father — plus the patriarch’s mistress nearly 40 years his junior — come as the South’s fifth-biggest conglomerate endures a barrage of condemnation from China.
The company provided land to Seoul to host a US missile defence system, infuriating Beijing, and nearly 90 percent of its Chinese Lotte Mart stores have since been forced to close by either authorities or angry demonstrations.
The trial is the latest blow to the reputations of the family-controlled conglomerates, or “chaebols”, that powered South Korea’s economic growth in past decades.
More recently they have increasingly become the focus of public anger over corruption and inequality, as in the scandal that saw president Park Guen-Hye removed from office earlier this month.