The ongoing legal battle surrounding the inheritance of the late former chairman of LG Group, Koo Bon-moo, has captured the attention of the business world both in South Korea and abroad. This marks the first time in the 75-year history of LG Group that a property division dispute has arisen. Various interpretations have emerged regarding the sudden filing of a lawsuit, four years after Koo’s passing in 2018, as well as the background and process of the case. Some view that depending on the lawsuit’s outcome, significant changes could occur in LG Group’s governance structure.
According to sources in the legal and business circles on the 12th, Koo’s mother Kim Young-sik, his younger sister Koo Yeon-kyung, who serves as the head of LG Welfare Foundation, and Koo Yeon-soo filed a lawsuit for “inheritance recovery” against Koo Bon-moo, the older brother of Koo Bon-neung, the chairman of Heesung Group. Koo Bon-moo succeeded his brother as the eldest son in accordance with the “primogeniture” principle in 2004.
The legal profession is paying attention to the point at which Kim and her daughter filed the lawsuit for inheritance recovery. This is because they have called Koo Bon-moo’s eligibility as an inheritor into question. A lawyer who used to be a judge said, “Inheritance recovery lawsuits are filed when a person has taken assets by falsely claiming to be an inheritor, or when a priority inheritor is discovered late. If the issue is the proportion of inheritance, a lawsuit to return the legal inheritance proportion would be filed. It is unprecedented to dispute Koo Bon-moo’s eligibility as an inheritor.”
Following the death of Koo Bon-moo’s older brother, Koo Bon-moo inherited 8.76% (15,122,169 shares) of the 11.28% (19,458,169 shares) of LG shares held by the holding company. Koo himself became the representative director and chairman. Koo’s son, Koo Kwang-mo, inherited 2.01% (3,464,000 shares), and Koo Yeon-soo inherited 0.51% (872,000 shares). Kim did not receive a single share. According to the legal inheritance ratio, the inheritance proportion of the late former chairman Koo’s shares was “1.5 (spouse) to 1 (per child).”
This has led to questions about whether any agreement was reached between Koo Bon-moo and Kim and her daughter at the time of the late former chairman’s passing. It has been reported that Kim and her daughter claimed that there were several procedural problems in the inheritance process. They believed that an agreement had been reached regarding the division of the inheritance, assuming that Koo Bon-moo’s older brother had left a will. However, they later discovered that there was no will.
On the other hand, LG Group argues that “Kim and her daughter already knew that there was no will.” Some view their filing of the lawsuit for inheritance recovery as an attempt to obtain a statute of limitations recognition, given that the statute of limitations for inheritance recovery lawsuits is three years from the date of “knowledge of infringement” and ten years from the date of “infringement.” The right to exercise the legal inheritance proportion can be exercised within one year from the date when the fact of the heir’s death is known. A legal professional said, “If the claim for the return of the legal inheritance proportion is blocked by the statute of limitations, it is possible to interpret the inheritance recovery claim as an attempt to obtain a statute of limitations recognition.”