SK Group chief ordered to pay wife $1 bil. in divorce settlement

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, left, and his estranged wife, Roh So-young / Yonhap

An appellate court has ordered SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won to pay 1.38 trillion won ($1 billion) to his estranged wife, Roh So-young, in a property division settlement. This amount is approximately a 20-fold increase compared to the 66.5 billion won previously ordered by a lower court.

While the lower court did not acknowledge Roh’s contribution to Chey’s asset accumulation, the high court did so. The amount awarded in the property division is the largest among known cases in this jurisdiction.

The Seoul High Court also mandated him to pay 2 billion won in alimony, marking a substantial increase from the 100 million won ordered by the Seoul Family Court in December 2022.

The two initiated divorce proceedings between 2017 and 2019, following Chey’s admission of having a child out of wedlock. Roh initially demanded alimony of 300 million won and half of Chey’s stake in the group’s holding company, valued at around 1 trillion won. However, the lower court substantially reduced the awarded amount at that time.

“Roh contributed to boosting SK Group’s corporate value and to Chey’s management activities … So all of the chairman’s property is subject to division,” it said, overturning the lower court’s ruling that shares held by Chey in SK Inc. were not subject to division.

As Roh was the daughter of late former President Roh Tae-woo, the court said, “We consider the former president played a role as a protector or shield for late former SK Group Chairman Chey Jong-hyun (the current chairman’s father), which helped successful business activities for the group.”

The court also stepped up criticism of Chey for suspending any financial support to Roh after the first trial and showing an insincere attitude.

“Even if the marital relationship has not been (legally) dissolved, Chey has suspended credit cards and stopped providing cash living expenses after the first ruling,” the court said. “On top of that, he also did not show an attitude of respect regarding the ongoing legal process, without reflecting on his misconduct.”

It continued: “The amount of alimony – assessed in the first ruling – is too low, considering the mental anguish triggered by the marital breakdown.” It said Chey 토토 spent more than 21.9 billion won on maintaining relationships with T&C Foundation President Kim Hee-young after separating from Roh, and has provided economically unquantifiable benefits to her.

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