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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 September 2007, 06:45 GMT 07:45 UK
Guilty Hyundai boss escapes jail
Chung Mong-koo arriving at court in Seoul
Chung will do community service and make a donation to charity
The chairman of carmaker Hyundai, who was convicted of embezzling company funds, will not go to jail after his sentence was suspended.

Chung Mong-koo failed in his appeal to have February's guilty verdict overturned, but Seoul's high court said he should not have to go to jail.

Instead of a three-year jail term, he will now do community service.

Chung has been on bail since the initial verdict and will now be free to return to work at the Korean carmaker.

Chief judge Lee Jae-Hong said he had taken into account wider considerations than just the nature of Chung's offences when deciding on sentencing.

"The court has been agonising over whether to put the accused in jail or keep him out of prison," he said.

"But in consideration of the huge economic impact that could result from imprisonment, it decided to suspend the sentence."


Chung was convicted of channelling $100m (53m) of company funds into a series of slush funds and breaching company trust.

Prosecutors were seeking a longer sentence of six years, arguing that anything less would harm the country's reputation for tackling corruption.

We are greatly relieved this matter is finally over

Chung appealed to be allowed to retain his freedom, saying that it would allow him to "contribute to the company and the national economy one last time".

Three other officials at the firm were also convicted in February but given suspended sentences.

Experts say the case has been damaging to Hyundai's corporate image and has held back plans for its international expansion.

"We are greatly relieved that this matter is finally over," Hyundai said in a statement after the verdict was announced.

"We can now devote our full energies to addressing the numerous challenges that face us and building a global brand."

How the Hyundai chairman avoided jail

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16 Jan 07 |  Business
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