[THE INVESTOR] Korean retail giant Lotte Group was thrown into disarray on Feb. 13 as a Seoul court sentenced its chairman to 30 months in prison for bribery.
The sentence handed down to Shin Dong-bin, by the Seoul Central District Court, caught Lotte officials off-guard, as they did not expect a jail term.
Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin
"We respect the court's judgment but the outcome is regrettable," Lotte said in a statement.
The conglomerate said it will consult with its lawyers before taking the next steps, though it did not elaborate.
Shin was convicted of giving 7 billion won (US$6.4 million) in bribes to a foundation run by ex-President Park Geun-hye's friend as he sought favors in winning a government license to run a duty-free business in Seoul.
Shin was immediately taken into custody following the court ruling, and was ordered to forfeit the same amount he offered to Choi Soon-sil, Park's longtime friend and confidante, as bribes.
In December, Shin got a 20-month prison term in a separate embezzlement and breach of trust case, but the Seoul Central District Court suspended the sentence for two years.
Lotte said Shin's absence could deal a big blow to a wide-range of issues, such as investments and the listing of Hotel Lotte, as well as overseas businesses.
By Song Seung-hyun and newswires (firstname.lastname@example.org