Jay Y. Lee, son of Samsung founder, has been pardoned for his criminal offenses
Lee Jae-yong - known in the West as Jay Y. Lee - has received a presidential pardon from South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, allowing him to resume his leadership role at Samsung. On August 15th, the pardon will be formalized. Lee Kun-hee's father, Lee Kun-hee, was convicted of corruption and tax evasion in 1996 and 2008. Lee Kun-hee was pardoned twice by the president.
“As part of efforts to overcome the economic crisis, Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong will be reinstated following the completion of his suspended prison sentence, the South Korean government announced in a statement obtained by the Financial Times.
In the wake of the pardon, Lee has emerged as the latest figure in a bribery scandal that dates back to 2017, when he was alleged to have bribed then-President Park Geun-Hye with money. As a consequence of being found guilty of corruption, the Samsung heir was initially sentenced to five years in prison before being released on appeal after serving less than one year of his sentence.
Subsequently, he was arrested again in January 2021, and he was released on parole once again in August of that year. During the course of his 30-month sentence, he served a year and a half. The pardon granted by the president opens the door for Lee to retake charge of the tech giant founded by his grandfather, Lee Byung-Chul.
In accordance with Korean law, convicted criminals are prohibited from holding formal positions at companies like Samsung for five years following their conviction. Lee continues to receive reports from the company without having an official title, according to a source.
Samsung currently does not have a chairman since Lee Kun-hee passed away in October 2020. Lee can return after his pardon and push through major strategic decisions, which are arguably necessary as the chaebol struggles with inflation, instability resulting from the Ukrainian war, supply chain issues resulting from China's COVID lockdowns, and issues resulting from an escalating US-China relationship.
Lee's formal return to the company is seen as a positive development for the company, as well as an announcement that may be politically popular. Samsung is owned by approximately 5 million people in South Korea, leading to widespread support for Lee's release from prison.
Nevertheless, critics contend that the pardon is at least partially the result of a cozy relationship between Korea's business and political elite that borders on corruption, according to the Financial Times.
"Thank you for giving me the chance to start over. In a statement, Lee apologized for causing concern to many people. "I will strive to give back to society and grow together." But the businessman's legal troubles aren't over yet, given that he still faces separate stock manipulation charges related to a merger of two Samsung subsidiaries.