Hyosung-chief-mired-in-lawsuits
Hyosung Group Chairman Cho Hyun-joon/Courtesy of Hyosung Group

Does Chairman Cho Hyun-joon become regular at prosecution office?

Hyosung Group Chairman Cho Hyun-joon, who is already mired in multiple lawsuits, is now feared to be facing another criminal charge. Hyosung is a mid-tier conglomerate of the country.

Local newspapers recently reported that police are investigating suspicions that Chairman Cho and his father, Honorary Chairman Cho Suck-rae, paid for legal services with company funds.

The newspapers said that police questioned the chief of a Hyosung subsidiary, who had worked as a close aide of the two tycoons over the past 10 years.

Hyosung reportedly signed legal contracts with lawyers in 2013 when prosecutors started looking into Chairman Cho and his father on various charges.

In early 2016, a Seoul district court sentenced Chairman Cho, who was president of the group back then, to a suspended 18-month prison term after finding him guilty of embezzling around $1.5 million by using a corporate credit card for personal use.

Two-and-a-half years later, a Seoul appellate court upheld the lower court’s verdict and the case is currently pending at the Supreme Court.

It remains to be seen how the top court will rule on the case. Depending on the decision, the 51-year-old businessman still runs the risk of being on the wrong side of the bars although watchers point out that such possibility is not high.

In a separate case, former Hyosung Vice President Cho Hyun-moon, also the younger brother of Chairman Cho, filed many suits against his elder brother on charges of embezzlement and breach of trust.

The case is currently pending at a Seoul district court. As the younger Cho is seemingly going all-out to accuse his brother of having committed wrongdoings, Chairman Cho is expected to experience hardship in dealing with the legal battle.

The junior Cho claims that Chairman Cho created a slush fund from an art money fund set up in the late 2000s.

And another bad piece of news for Chairman Cho is the report that the police are checking the legal contracts signed by him and his father.

If it is correct that Chairman Cho embezzled company money and got legal services for that with company funds again, it is doubly bad. It’s like regarding the company as a private safe,” Prof. Lee Phil-sang at Seoul National University said.

That shows that some of our tycoons do not feel regret even after committing wrongdoings such as embezzlement.”

In response, Hyosung countered that Chairman Cho and his father spent their own money to go through the lawsuits. The group claimed that they spent more than 20 billion won ($18 million) for that.