Amid corruption probe, Lotte Group Vice Chairman found dead

Seoul, Aug 26 (IANS) The Vice Chairman of Lotte Group, South Korea’s fifth-largest business group, was on Friday found dead in an apparent suicide ahead of prosecutors’ summons over allegations of corruption involving the group.

Police found the body of 69-year-old Lee In-won on a trail in Yangpyeong, 55 km east of Seoul, after receiving a report from a local resident about a man hanging from a tree. After finding Lee’s identification in his clothes, the police also found a four-page suicide note in his car found near the site of the incident, Yonhap News Agency reported.

The note addresses his family, executives and members of staff, expressing loyalty to chairman Shin Dong-bin and denies the charges of tax evasion and creation of slush funds. Lee was to appear before prosecutors on Friday morning, Lotte officials said.

Lee joined the group in 1973 and became the first to become vice chairman in 2011, outside the family. He was also longtime CEO of Lotte Shopping, one of the biggest businesses of the group.

Lotte, started as a chewing gum company in Japan in 1948, now operates businesses in chemicals, food, shopping and hotels, including South Korea’s largest discount and department store chains. Its brands are well recognised all across Southeast Asia.

–IANS

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