Scandal-hit Korean Air chief forced off board by shareholders

The 70-year-old tycoon Cho Yang-ho controls around 30 percent of Korean Air through its parent company Hanjin Kal. (Reuters)
Updated 27 March 2019
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Scandal-hit Korean Air chief forced off board by shareholders

  • Cho Yang-ho controls around 30 percent of Korean Air
  • The Cho family has been under scrutiny in recent years after being embroiled in multiple criminal probes

SEOUL: The head of South Korea’s flag carrier Korean Air — whose family have been embroiled in multiple scandals including one involving a “nut rage” tantrum — lost his board seat after shareholders voted against extending his term as director, the airline said Wednesday.
Cho Yang-ho, who is currently on trial for corruption, failed to secure a required two-thirds majority, becoming the first controlling shareholder of a South Korean conglomerate to be forced off the board.
The super-wealthy owners of chaebols — the sprawling conglomerates that dominate the world’s 11th-largest economy — are no strangers to controversy, but a string of high-profile scandals have vaulted the Cho family to notoriety in South Korea, even sparking protests by their employees.
The 70-year-old tycoon is the chairman of the Hanjin Group, which used to own the now-bankrupt Hanjin Shipping line.
Cho controls around 30 percent of Korean Air through its parent company Hanjin Kal.
But the National Pension Service, the airline’s second biggest shareholder, had said Tuesday it will oppose Cho’s re-election, citing his records of “undermining corporate value and infringing upon shareholder rights.”
“It is correct that he has lost his seat as the director of the board,” a Korean Air spokeswoman said.
The Cho family has been under scrutiny in recent years after being embroiled in multiple criminal probes over charges ranging from assault, embezzlement and smuggling luxury goods.
Cho is on trial for embezzling more than 20 billion won ($18 million) and unfairly awarding contracts to companies controlled by his family members.
His two daughters, who held management positions at Korean Air, previously became viral sensations for temper tantrums dubbed the “nut rage” and “water rage” scandals, forcing Cho to issue a public apology and remove them from their posts.
The elder, Cho Hyun-ah, made global headlines in 2014 for kicking a cabin crew chief off a Korean Air plane after she was served macadamia nuts in a bag rather than a bowl. She later served a short prison sentence.
Last year, her younger sister Cho Hyun-min was accused of throwing a drink into an advertising agency manager’s face in a fit of rage during a business meeting. She was not indicted as the victim did not want to press charges.
Their mother, Lee Myung-hee, has been questioned by police several times in connection with allegations of assault against her employees including cursing, kicking, slapping and even throwing a pair of scissors.
Cho himself received a suspended jail sentence for tax evasion in 2000 and is awaiting a separate trial for using 30 billion won of company funds to renovate his house.


US won’t send officials to China’s Belt and Road Forum

Updated 24 April 2019
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US won’t send officials to China’s Belt and Road Forum

  • Leaders from 37 countries and officials from dozens more are expected to attend the Belt and Road Forum from Thursday to Saturday
  • Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told journalists at a briefing last week that US diplomats, state government representatives and members of the business community would be attending the forum

BEIJING: Washington will not send officials to a Beijing summit on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s signature global infrastructure project, the US embassy said Wednesday amid a raft of disputes between the two powers.
Leaders from 37 countries and officials from dozens more are expected to attend the Belt and Road Forum from Thursday to Saturday, but Washington has dismissed the initiative as a “vanity project.”
“The United States has no plans to send officials from Washington to the Belt and Road Forum,” a US embassy spokesperson told AFP in an email.
“We call upon all countries to ensure that their economic diplomacy initiatives adhere to internationally-accepted norms and standards, promote sustainable, inclusive development, and advance good governance and strong economic institutions,” the spokesperson said.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told journalists at a briefing last week that American diplomats, state government representatives and members of the business community will be attending the forum.
At the first Belt and Road summit in 2017, the US was represented by White House adviser Matt Pottinger.
Since then, more countries have signed up to Belt and Road, most notably Italy, which became the first G7 nation to join the global scheme that aims to link Asia to Europe and Africa through massive investments in maritime, road and rail projects.