South Korea: President of Samsung pardons boss
Lee Jae-yong can also take over the leadership of the world’s leading smartphone manufacturer. The government hopes to revive growth in the country.
The heir and de facto leader of the Samsung group received a presidential pardon on Friday, the latest example of a South Korean tradition of leniency towards big bosses convicted of corruption and other financial crimes. Billionaire Lee Jae-yong, convicted of corruption and embezzlement last January, will “reinstated” to the “Contribution to overcoming the economic crisis in South Koreasaid Minister of Justice Han Dong-hoon.
Lee Jae-yong, 54 — the 278th richest person in the world according to Forbes — was conditionally released in August 2021 after serving 18 months in prison, just over half his original sentence. Friday’s pardon will allow him to fully return to work and lift the court-imposed ban on him serving five years after his sentence. “Due to the global economic crisis, the dynamism and vitality of the national economy has slackened and it is feared that the economic slump will continueThe Justice Department said in a statement. The ministry hopes the businessman will be able to “drive the country’s growth engine by actively investing in technology and creating jobs“.
20% of South Korea’s GDP
Lee Jae-yong was pardoned along with three other businessmen, including Lotte Group chairman Shin Dong-bin, who was sentenced to a two-and-a-half-year suspended sentence in a corruption case in 2018.
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Lee Jae-yong is Vice President of Samsung Electronics, the world’s largest smartphone maker. The conglomerate’s total sales are equivalent to one-fifth of South Korea’s gross domestic product. He was jailed for offenses related to a massive corruption scandal that brought down former President Park Geun-hye. It is not uncommon for major South Korean tycoons to be accused of corruption, embezzlement, tax evasion or other illegal economic activities.
In a statement following his pardon, Mr. Lee said he wanted “Contribution to the economy through continuous investment and job creation for young people“.