Prosecutors are blaming the head of the ferry operator Chonghaejin Marine and four other company officials for the disastrous sinking of the ferry Sewol that killed more than 300 people.
At a preliminary hearing on Friday in Gwangju, CEO Kim Han-sik and four other managers were accused of neglecting safety and training standards and causing the ship to be overloaded with too much cargo.
Prosecutors also allege the 6,800 ton ferry was regularly overloaded with cargo resulting in a US$3 million profit to the ferry company in 2013.
The vessel capsized and sank April 16, killing mostly high school students who were on a field trip from Incheon to Jeju.
The ship's captain, Lee Joon-seok, has already been charged with "homicide through willful negligence" and faces a possible death sentence.
Eleven crew members who were on board the vessel at the time it went down face lesser negligence charges.
Shortly after the disaster, President Park Geun-hye said that the actions of the crew were "tantamount to murder."