Aug. 12 (UPI) — A South Korean pop star charged with using his nightclub to facilitate sex trafficking was sentenced to three years in prison on Thursday, more than two years after the Burning Sun club was shuttered following multiple rape incidents.
Seungri, 30, whose real name is Lee Seung-hyun, was convicted by a military court of masterminding a sex-trafficking scheme at the club to draw investors from Taiwan, Japan, Hong Kong and other countries, South Korean network MBC reported.
The former Big Bang member also was convicted of embezzling his company’s funds and gambling overseas in violation of South Korea’s foreign exchange laws. Lee embezzled more than $450,000 and gambled with more than $1.8 million in Las Vegas between 2013 and 2017, according to Yonhap news agency.
The South Korean court fined Lee about $1 million and said he’d provided “sexual favors” to strengthen his relations with investors, according to MBC.
The court said Thursday that “severe punishment” is necessary because Lee profited from “mobilizing many women to provide sexual services.”
The verdict said Lee’s “commercialization of sex” caused societal harm, particularly during a two-month period that began in December 2015. The crimes that year occurred around the time when Lee and Yoo In-suk, former chief executive of Yuri Holdings Co., allegedly sent gang members to attack a customer over a dispute with Lee at a Seoul bar.
Lee was charged with “special assault” earlier this year, and the pair were previously charged with “displaying force and threatening victims.”
Past charges against the defendant relate to rape and drugging incidents at Burning Sun, where he served as a board of director and held shares.
The club was closed in 2019 after eyewitnesses reportedly saw intoxicated women being dragged to VIP rooms. Staff assaulted whistleblowers when they tried to help, news reports said.
Lee is completing mandatory military service in South Korea and is to be discharged in a month.