South Korean prosecutors have asked for an arrest warrant for Chung on embezzlement charges amid a widening investigation into allegations the car giant created a slush fund to pay politicians and officials for business favors. Prosecutors said they also planned to indict his son, Chung Eui-sun, the president of Hyundai subsidiary Kia Motors, although without detaining him.
Despite performing eleventh-hour acts of contrition such as the charitable donation of his entire shareholding in Hyundai logistics unit Glovis last week–to ward off any suspicion that Chung is seeking irregular means to turn control of the group over to Chung Eui-sun–then this week offering an apology to the South Korean people, the automaker’s chief still hasn’t managed to wriggle free of the prosecution’s investigation.
Senior prosecutor Chae Dong-wook was quoted as telling a press briefing on Thursday that Chung was wanted on charges “of raising some 100 billion won ($106 million) in slush funds and embezzling it”. As well as probing these allegations, the prosecution will aim to establish if top management conspired to increase the Chung family’s share of wealth and consolidate its management control of the group.
The news seems to have been turned the company into a coop of headless chickens. Hyundai spokesman Jake Jang told the Associated Press that the automakers executives “are all in a panic. The absence of Chairman Chung is enormous, and its ramifications are beyond description”.