* Lotte chief, sister say 94-year-old founder organised
* Agitated founder led out of court, yelling
* Chaebol reform a campaign issue in May 9 presidential
By Heekyong Yang
SEOUL, March 20 The 94-year-old founder of Lotte
Group, South Korea's fifth-largest conglomerate, threw his cane
to the floor of a court on Monday and demanded to know where he
was on the first day of a trial of him and family members.
Shin Kyuk-ho appeared confused as he entered the court in a
wheelchair, and tried to resist aides' efforts to wheel him out,
by dragging his feet.
"Lotte is a company that I made, I have 100 percent of the
shares, who indicted me?" the agitated Shin Kyuk-ho shouted upon
his return to the court, throwing down his cane.
His lawyer said he denied charges of embezzlement and breach
of trust, as the first day of arguments got off to a dramatic
start, with the judge asking the Lotte Group founder to be quiet
and aides checking his blood pressure.
The investigation behind the trial is separate from the one
that led to the recent dismissal of President Park Geun-hye,
over suspected corruption linked to dealings with other big
conglomerates, including the Samsung Group and SK Group.
In a courtroom packed with lawyers, reporters and members of
the public, Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin, 62, his older
brother Shin Dong-joo, and his father and Lotte founder, Shin
Kyuk-ho, were in attendance as defendants on Monday.
Prosecutors indicted 22 people at the end of an
investigation over several months last year into suspected
corruption at Lotte Group.
The elderly group founder, Shin Kyuk-ho, has been indicted
for tax evasion, embezzlement and breach of trust, involving a
total 223.8 billion won ($200 million).
His son, group chairman Shin Dong-bin, has been charged with
embezzlement of about 50.8 billion won ($45 million) and breach
of trust over about 124.9 billion won, concerning suspected
irregular payments to family members and unlawful support of
A lawyer for him said the payments in question were
organised by the father, Shin Kyuk-ho, without Shin Dong-bin's
A lawyer for Shin Dong-bin's older sister, Shin Young-ja,
said she denied breach of trust, adding that a payment under
suspicion, from Lotte Cinema to her company, was also organised
by Shin Kyuk-ho, and she was not in a position to influence the
Shin Kyuk-ho's lawyer said he denied all charges, without
Lotte Group had been preparing a $4.5-billion initial public
offering (IPO) of Hotel Lotte Co Ltd last year, but
shelved the plan after prosecutors' investigation became public.
South Korea holds a presidential election on May 9 to find a
replacement for Park and reform of big family-run conglomerates,
known as chaebol, is a campaign issue.
(Reporting by Heekyong Yang; Writing by Joyce Lee; Editing by
Robert Birsel and Clarence Fernandez)