SEOUL, South Korea (AP) _ Hyundai Motor Co. chairman Chung
Mong-koo, appealing an embezzlement conviction and prison sentence,
on Tuesday affirmed his promise to donate one trillion won (US$1.1
billion) worth of personal assets to society.
Chung, who made the pledge last year as part of a public apology
and attempt to earn leniency amid a slush fund scandal, said the
money will be donated to the public through an independent committee
over the next seven years. The committee will be set up by end of
this year, he said.
Chung made the comments during questioning by his lawyer at the
Seoul High Court during his appeal hearing over a February
conviction for embezzling company funds to set up a slush fund. He
also answered questions about the donation plan from the presiding
The donated money will be used to build an opera house in Seoul
and 12 other cultural complexes across the country, Chung told the
court. Chung said he hopes that the funds will be used in projects
that can help prevent global warming.
Chung, one of South Korea's richest men, was sentenced to three
years in jail for embezzling the equivalent of more than $100
million in company funds and breach of trust.
He remains free during the appeal and continues to run the
company, the world's sixth-largest automaker.
Chung told the court that he has already given 60 billion won
($64.5 million) in cash to a charity and another 60 billion won will
be offered within a year.
Chung was not the only one to offer public donations last year
aimed at improving corporate image.
The Samsung Group, which includes Samsung Electronics Co., said
it would donate 800 billion won ($860 million) in corporate and
private assets to charity as part of an apology over several
Samsung spokesman Yim Jun-seok confirmed Tuesday that the
donation was carried out last year.
U.S. private equity group Lone Star Funds also said it would
donate 100 billion won ($107.5 million) as a ``social contribution''
to the South Korean people. The announcement came amid an
investigation into suspected tax and currency irregularities against
the Dallas-based group and negative public sentiment toward foreign
Lone Star Funds officials were not immediately available for
A fourth round of Chung's appeal hearing was scheduled for June