An appeals court is set to hold the first preliminary hearing for the head of South Korea's retail giant Lotte in a massive bribery scandal that removed the country's leader from office last year, industry and legal sources said Sunday.
In February, a Seoul court sentenced the business tycoon to two and a half years in prison for giving 7 billion won (US$6.7 million) in bribes to a foundation run by ex-President Park Geun-hye's friend in return for business favors.
The Seoul High Court will begin preparation procedures on Shin along with other defendants in the case, including Park's friend, Choi Soon-sil, on Wednesday.
Shin has recently hired a judge-turned-lawyer to join his defense counsel to brace for the upcoming appeals trial, sources said.
The imprisonment of Shin has effectively created a leadership vacuum at the country's fifth-largest conglomerate by sales as the company is striving to put operations in China back on track after being hit hard by a diplomatic row between Seoul and Beijing last year.
The business group has been strengthening its executives' on-site managerial activities, meeting with institutional investors to explain the situation faced by the company and its strategies to overcome the crisis.
Last month, Shin was reappointed as a board member of the business group's key affiliates -- Lotte Shopping Co. and Lotte Confectionery Co. -- during their regular shareholders' meetings.
Founded in 1948 in Japan, Lotte entered South Korea in 1967 and grew into the country's fifth-largest conglomerate, driven by its success in the retail, food and amusement businesses. Its sprawling empire now includes chemicals, duty-free shops, finance and construction, with a global workforce of 125,000. (Yonhap)