Earlier today, the former chief of YG Entertainment, Yang Hyun-suk, has admitted to all gambling charges that are being faced by him.
At the Seoul Western District Court hearing that took place on September 9th, 49-year-old Mr. Yang confirmed that he spent about KRW400 million to gamble at Las Vegas casinos on some 20 occasions in the period from 2015 to 2019. His attorney told the court that his client accepts all gambling charges against him.
Yang was taken to court and being charged with gambling that is not described as “habitual gambling”, which is a more serious criminal offense that could result in a 3-year imprisonment sentence or a maximum fine amounting to KRW20 million. Gambling that is not “habitual” could lead to a monetary fine of up to KRW10 million.
The Seoul Western District Court judge Park Soo-hyun explained that he needs to make a more in-depth review of the case in order to further determine whether the non-habitual gambling charges against Mr. Yang were the right ones to be indicted. For the time being, no plea bargains are allowed under the South Korean legislation, although they exist in court practice, and judges can reject such deals.
The next hearing of Yang Hyun-suk’s case is set to be held on October 28th.
Mr. Yang Initially Faced More Serious Charges of Habitual Gambling
The case that has been investigated since August 2019, was forwarded to court by the police on November 1st, with recommendations for indictment on charges of habitual gambling.
During the investigation, the police have found that Yang Hyun-suk spent hundreds of millions of won to gamble at several Las Vegas casinos between 2015 and 2019. South Korean singer and songwriter Lee Seung-hyun, who is more popular by his stage name Seungri, also faced charges of spending more than KRW1 billion on gambling at one Las Vegas-based hotel-casino. As revealed by local media at the time, a total of five individuals including Yang Hyun-suk and Seungri have been facing the same gambling charges. The three other individuals were not public figures or celebrities.
According to investigators, Yang Hyun-suk and Seungri visited Las Vegas casinos to gamble at the time when they used to travel abroad once or twice a year. Reportedly, they made less than ten gambling trips to Las Vegas in five years, but the investigation did not check their habitual gambling from before 2014, as there is a five-year statute of limitations.
As mentioned above, Yang Hyun-suk had been forwarded to the prosecution on charges of habitual gambling while making seven trips to Las Vegas between July 2015 and January 2019. The prosecution, however, has asked for summary judgment on charges of gambling, and not habitual gambling, as such changes would have not been valid.
The founder of the leading K-pop agency had also been forwarded to the prosecution after recommendations for non-indictment in regard to the charges of breaching the Foreign Exchange Transactions Act. This happened because of suspicions Mr. Yang and Sungri used so-called “hwanchigi”, a term used to describe illegal practices surrounding foreign exchange transactions, used to fund the two men’s gambling. These charges, however, were dropped by the prosecution due to a lack of evidence to prove them.