Chung Mong-koo, the man who turned Hyundai around after the Southeast Asian financial meltdown in 1997, has been given a 3-year suspended sentence by an appeals court for embezzlement and breach of public trust. Chung was arrested in April for having a hand in setting up nearly $74 million in slush funds to pay for political favors.

After he was arrested, he was freed on $1 million bail to continue running Hyundai. The group, or chaebol -- the Korean word for powerful, family-controlled conglomerates -- is a strong driver of the Korean economy. Chung has no clear successor at the company (his son runs Kia), and many were worried about the effect such a rudderless ship would have. Chung also gave a little more than $1 million to charity after his arrest, and made a public apology. According to the presiding judge, though, it was the potential "ripple effects" of Chung's absence at Hyundai that guided the decision. Oh, and the fact that he asked around, and "ordinary people leaned toward a suspended sentence." The sentence is suspended for five years.

Thanks for the tip, Thomas!

[Source: Financial Post]

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