A South Korean appeals court upheld the convictions of several prominent officials yesterday for secretly transferring money to North Korea ahead of a historic 2000 inter-Korean summit.
In September, Seoul District Criminal Court had found the five men, including two key figures in the administration of former president Kim Dae-jung, guilty of remitting US$100 million to North Korea in violation of the South's strict foreign currency regulations. They were all sentenced to suspended jail terms.
The case severely damaged the reputation of Kim, whose summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-il helped him win the 2000 Nobel Peace Prize.
Kim, who was never investigated or indicted, finished his five-year term in February. He was succeeded by President Roh Moo-hyun, a political ally.
The Seoul High Court upheld the 18-month suspended term against Lim Dong-won, a former intelligence chief, on charges of helping the Hyundai business group win loans from a state bank and remit the funds to North Korea.
The court also upheld the ruling against Kim Yoon-kyu, head of a Hyundai subsidiary in charge of businesses in North Korea, who had received a suspended one-year sentence.
The others with convictions upheld were Choi Kyu-baek, a former intelligence official, and two former top officials of the state-run Korea Development Bank -- Lee Keun-young and Park Sang-bae.
Before stepping down, Kim Dae-jung admitted that his government had helped the Hyundai group give North Korea US$500 million days before the summit. He said that the money included US$100 million Seoul had promised Pyongyang for the summit.