Hyundai Chairman Apologizes at Appeal

By From chron | Mar 28 2007
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Embattled Hyundai Motor Co. Chairman Chung Mong-koo apologized and asked for leniency Tuesday at the start of his appeal over a conviction for setting up millions in slush funds with company money.

Chung was convicted last month and sentenced to three years in jail for embezzling the equivalent of more than $100 million in company funds and other charges. He remains free during the appeal and continues to run the company.

"I am making many efforts to correct the past mistakes," Chung said Tuesday as his appeal opened in a Seoul court. "I will make my utmost efforts if I am given an opportunity."

His lawyers called for leniency, citing the contributions Chung had made to the Korean economy.

"The term is heavy and it should be corrected," said defense attorney Park Sun-sung.

However, prosecutors are also appealing and say the sentence is too light, with officials saying after the hearing that they want the court to restore their original sentencing demand of six years.

The appeal process came days after the nation's tax authorities raided the offices of three affiliates of the Hyundai Automotive Group, led by Hyundai Motor.

Hyundai has said previous investigations into slush fund activities at the group were also followed by tax service probes.


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