Family feud reignites at S. Korea's Lotte Group

Lotte Group chairman Shin Dong-bin arrives at a court in Seoul.
PHOTO: Reuters

The elder brother of South Korea's Lotte Group chairman has filed a lawsuit against his younger sibling for alleged accounting fraud, his spokesman said Tuesday, reigniting a bitter family feud over a stake in the business empire.

"We submitted a complaint to the prosecutors' office on September 30," Thomas Hong, spokesman for Shin Dong-Joo, former vice president of Lotte Holdings, told AFP.

Hong said Shin accused Lotte chairman Shin Dong-Bin and two other officials of breaching accounting rules by omitting 370 billion won (S$455 million) worth of losses on capital reduction posted by Lotte Shopping from May 2013 to November 2015.

Shin claimed that Lotte Shopping deliberately waited to announce the loss - the first deficit posted by the firm since 2006 - and that the net loss is larger than the reported amount.

In a regulatory filing in February this year, Lotte Shopping announced 346.1 billion won in net losses in 2015 due to a re-evaluation of its business rights in China.

An official at Lotte Group told Yonhap news agency that the company was unaware of the complaint and said it will take "necessary countermeasures" after reviewing the case.

The complaint was filed a day after a Seoul court dismissed an arrest warrant on Shin Dong-Bin, who had been under investigation on embezzlement charges.

The Seoul-based group, founded in Tokyo in 1948 by Shin Kyuk-Ho, has a vast network of businesses in South Korea and Japan including department stores, hotels and processed food, with combined assets valued at more than $90 billion.

The group has made headlines since last year because of a bitter feud between the founder's two sons. Dong-Bin and his older brother Dong-Joo locked horns over the control of the business empire and launched a series of personal and very public attacks on each other.