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Hyundai Motor chief donates 200 bln won in shares to charity foundation

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, July 2 (Yonhap) -- Hyundai Motor Co. Chairman Chung Mong-koo donated shares believed to be worth up to 200 billion won (US$176 million) to a charity foundation, his company said Tuesday, in the latest contribution amid growing calls to rein in the economic dominance of family-controlled conglomerates.

Chung donated all of his 360,000 shares in Innocean Worldwide Corp., an unlisted marketing firm of Hyundai Motor Group, to the foundation named after him.

Chung's stake in Innocean Worldwide accounts for 20 percent of the marketing firm's total shares.

"Chung decided to donate additional personal assets to lend support to a virtuous cycle of welfare, in which welfare is connected to growth," Hyundai Motor said in a statement.

Foundation officials were not immediately available for comment on what they would do with Chung's donated shares in Innocean Worldwide.

Chung donated 650 billion won to the foundation between 2007 and 2011.

The latest move comes as President Park Geun-hye has vowed to tackle alleged unfair business practices by the country's conglomerates, known as chaebol, and to level the playing field for smaller firms in a country that has been dominated by family-controlled chaebol for decades.

Chung has pledged to donate 840 billion won worth of his assets to society in an apparent attempt to get leniency over legal troubles.

In June 2008, Chung was sentenced to a three-year prison term for embezzling 70 billion won and a breach of trust in a retrial, though the sentence was suspended for five years.

Chung did not serve time in jail as he stayed out of trouble, and he received a presidential special amnesty along with other convicted business tycoons in August 2008.

Hyundai Motor forms the world's fifth-largest automaker together with its smaller sister company Kia Motors.

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