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Prosecutors to resume Lotte probe after vice chairman’s funeral

[THE INVESTOR] The prosecution said it will resume its investigation of Lotte Group after the funeral service for Vice Chairman Lee In-won is over on Aug. 30.

According to the Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office, the authorities will not summon Lotte officials during the mourning period. But once the funeral procedure is completed, they will reopen the inquiry.

“There will be no major change in the range and direction of our investigation, while the timetable of the investigation has been rearranged,” an official said. 

Lotte Group headquarters in Seoul. The Investor / Lee Sang-sub
Lotte Group headquarters in Seoul. The Investor / Lee Sang-sub


Lee was found dead in an apparent suicide on Aug. 26, just hours before he was due to be questioned by prosecutors in the retail giant’s corruption probe. The death of Lee, a top aide of Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin, caused prosecutors to halt their investigation for the time being, raising possibility that the probe could fizzle out.

But authorities reaffirmed their stance that Lee’s death would not greatly affect the inquiry, nor the suicide note left by Lee.

In the four-page note, Lee reportedly claimed Lotte Group doesn’t have a slush fund and all the company’s main operation was decided by the group’s founder Shin Kyuk-ho. The industry insiders see this as a move to make authorities difficult to target Shin Dong-bin for the group’s irregularities.

The country’s fifth-largest conglomerate has been under intensive investigation since June this year on multiple charges that include embezzlement and slush fund creation, among others.

By Ahn Sung-mi (sahn@heraldcorp.com)
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