Retail in Asia

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Lotte Group Chairman jailed for duty free licence bribery


Lotte Group, parent of the country’s leading travel retailer Lotte Duty Free, is reeling from the shock jailing of its Chairman Shin Dong-bin on 13 February 2018.

Following a Seoul Court’s guilty verdict and simultaneous sentencing of 2 1/2 years in jail to Lotte Chairman Shin Dong-bin for bribery, Lotte Group voiced concerns over its future business plans.

SEE ALSO : Lotte Duty Free files complaint against airport

In an official statement, Lotte Group said the outcome was “unexpected” and it was “regretful” about the jail term, and insisted that Shin was innocent.

“As soon as we receive the written judgement, the group will discuss with its attorneys for further process,” the group said.

“But what worries us is not being able to achieve our promise with customers, such as listing our hotel business, completing the establishment of the holding company, as well as investment and employment expansion plans,” the group added.

The group said it would activate its emergency management system to reassure employees, customers and shareholders.

With Shin’s sentence, the business license for Lotte Duty Free branch in World Tower in southern Seoul may be at risk, according to industry watchers.

The National Tax Service said it has launched a review of the licensing process upon the sentencing.

In what is now referred to as the “duty free war” in 2015, Lotte had lost its duty free business right in the license screening process in November of that year. Then in 2016, the government announced a plan to dole out an additional duty free license in Seoul, for which Lotte won in December of the same year. The court found the duty free business as one of the management issues for Shin.

SEE ALSO : Lotte wins prestigious new Stevie Award for its website

The company will continue to support the ongoing 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games as an official partner with help of the vice president of Korea Ski Association, it added.

Shin became the president of the Korean Ski Association in 2014 and has been supporting the Korean ski team since then. He is also a member of the 2018 PyeongChang Organizing Committee’s governing board and has been a member of the International Ski Federation since 2016.