[JURIST] A court in South Korea [JURIST news archive] on Tuesday sentenced Kim Woo-choong [Wikipedia profile], founder of collapsed conglomerate Daewoo Group [corporate website], to ten years in prison and ordered him to pay a fine of over $10,000 while forfeiting $22 billion gained through embezzlement and accounting fraud. Kim was indicted [Seoul Times report] last year on charges of ordering Daewoo executives to inflate Daewoo's assets, a move that came in the wake of the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis [CRS report], as well as charges of diverting funds out of the country, embezzlement, and breach of trust. Prosecutors had sought a 15 year prison term and a $24.8 billion forfeiture of funds from Kim, and the lesser sentence came as a surprise.
Kim returned to South Korea to face charges last year after fleeing to France for six years, and will not be sent to prison immediately pending recovery from heart problems. The South Korean government broke up Daewoo and sold its parts to various companies, including General Motors, after Daewoo collapsed in 1999 under a $80 billion debt. AP has more. The Seoul Times has local coverage.