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Lotte chairman released from prison after court suspends jail sentence

Shin Dong-bin, chairman of multinational conglomerate Lotte Group, was released from prison after the Seoul High Court suspended his 30-month jail sentence for four years, Bloomberg reported Oct. 5.

An appellate court in Seoul facilitated Shin's release, the report said.

According to Bloomberg, the South Korean conglomerate said in a statement following the decision: "Lotte will work to become a company committed to social responsibility and devoted to the national economy."

Shin was sentenced to 30 months in prison earlier this year on charges of bribery. The Seoul Central District Court found Shin guilty of giving 7 billion South Korean won to former South Korean President Park Geun-hye's confidante Choi Soon-sil in exchange for getting a duty-free license granted to Lotte. However, the company in March reappointed Shin to the board of its subsidiaries Lotte Shopping Co. Ltd. and Lotte Confectionery Co. Ltd. to avoid a leadership vacuum.

In June, Shin raised his stake in the conglomerate's holding company to 10.54% from 8.63% while in prison, effectively widening his lead over other members of the founding family.

Earlier this year, Samsung Group heir Lee Jae-yong was also released from jail after a South Korean appeals court suspended his five-year prison term over allegations that Samsung paid nearly US$37 million to entities controlled by ex-president Park's friend and confidante Choi. The payments allegedly included an US$18.6 million equestrian agreement Samsung struck with a small sports consulting company in Germany.

As of Oct. 5, US$1 was equivalent to 1,130.04 South Korean won.