Lotte vice chairman found dead amid probe; suicide suspected

Fri Aug 26, 2016 5:37am EDT
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By Hyunjoo Jin and Se Young Lee

SEOUL (Reuters) - One of the top executives at South Korea's Lotte Group was found dead on Friday, a suspected suicide, hours before he was to be questioned by prosecutors conducting a criminal probe into the country's fifth-largest conglomerate.

Lotte Group confirmed the death of Vice Chairman Lee In-won, which comes after the group was riven by a family succession feud last year and subjected in June to widespread raids by government prosecutors.

Lee had been with the group for 43 years and was the most senior executive outside the Shin family that controls the conglomerate, or chaebol. He was a longtime CEO of Lotte Shopping (023530.KS: Quote), one of the group's biggest businesses.

The police said Lee's body was found on Friday morning under a tree along a walking and cycling path near Seoul. They said he had left home around 10 p.m. on Thursday. A four-page note was found in the executive's car parked nearby.

An autopsy showed Lee's death appeared to be a "typical case of death by hanging," which appeared to be suicide, police said.

"When I arrived after the call, the deceased was lying down, crouched here," Hyung Dae-ryong, Seojong precinct police station chief, told reporters gathered at the site.

The deceased, wearing shorts and a black windbreaker, appeared to have hung himself from a tree with a necktie, Hyung told reporters.

A maroon umbrella with the Lotte logo was found nearby.   Continued...

The body of Lotte Group Vice Chairman Lee In-won is wheeled into an ambulance on a stretcher at a hospital in Yangpyeong, South Korea, August 26, 2016.   Yonhap/via REUTERS