A South Korean court Tuesday ruled for a second time that Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo does not have to go to prison for embezzlement and breach of trust, leaving the auto tycoon free to keep running the aggressively expanding automaker.
The Seoul High Court upheld a sentence last year in which it suspended the three-year prison term handed Chung by a lower court.
The latest ruling the 70-year old executive can avoid time in jail as long as he breaks no laws for five years.
Presiding judge Kil Ki-bong said Chung used most of the embezzled funds for his company and "did not seek personal profits" as a reason for suspending the prison term. The judge said Chung's promise to donate personal assets to society was also a mitigating point. Chung has promised to donate 1 trillion won ($985 million) worth of assets to charity in an apparent attempt to seek leniency from the court.
The Seoul High Court was forced to issue a new sentence because prosecutors appealed one aspect of its earlier decision: that Chung deliver lectures and write newspaper articles on lawful business management for the community service portion of his sentence.
In Tuesday's ruling, the high court ordered Chung to do 300 hours of community service in the form of environmental protection and other activities instead of the lecturing and writing.