A big-time owner of multiple hostess bars convicted of sex trafficking, tax evasion and other illegal activities was released after getting a suspended jail term from an appellate court on Tuesday.
The Seoul High Court sentenced Lee Kyung-baek, 39, to three years in prison, suspended for five years in a controversial ruling overturning a lower court's verdict of three years and six months in prison.
He also received 550 million won ($481,118) in fines and 300 hours of community service.
Known as the "room salon king" in the affluent southern Seoul district of Gangnam's entertainment establishments, Lee had regularly offered bribes to police officers, brokered prostitution, and had been accused of dodging billions of won in taxes from 2008 to 2010, according to court documents.
Throughout the bribery probe into Lee, about 10 incumbent and former police officers in the district have been indicted on charges of receiving kickbacks from him.
"It is reasonable to conclude that the amount of tax dodged (by Lee) is 200 million won, not 2.1 billion won as acknowledged by the lower court," Judge Kim Ju-hyon said, explaining the reason for the lighter verdict.
"Lee has no prior record of being punished in tax evasion or prostitution charges, and has paid 420 million in taxes since he was indicted," the judge added. (Yonhap)