South Korea pardons Samsung chief for bribing former president
- South Korea has just pardoned Samsung’s de facto leader, Jay Y. Lee, for bribing a former president.
- The Justice Department said Lee needed to help the country weather a “national economic crisis.”
- South Korea is facing economic headwinds from war in Ukraine, soaring inflation and slowing demand.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has pardoned Samsung’s de facto chief for bribing a former president because he is simply too important to the country’s economy.
In an announcement on Friday, South Korean Ministry of Justice said Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee was needed to help deal with the country’s “economic crisis”.
“Key businessmen have been included in the pardons in consideration of their role in national growth through technology investment and job creation, as the country badly needs to overcome an economic crisis” , a government official told the Yonhap News Agency.
In 2017, Lee was found guilty of bribing a friend of South Korean President Park Geun-hye and was eventually sentenced to two and a half years in prison. It was seek government support for a merger that would strengthen his control over the company founded by his grandfather. Park, South Korea’s first female leader, was impeached in December 2016 and sentenced to 24 years in prison. She was pardoned last year.
In addition to Lee, Yoon pardoned 1,692 other people, including Shin Dong Bin, the chairman of the Lotte Group, who was also separately sentenced to prison for corruption. The pardons are expected to go into effect next Monday.
Lee was already on parole after serving 18 months in prison for the charges – he even met US President Joe Biden in May during the leader’s visit to South Korea – the pardon is therefore mainly symbolic. However, the conditions of Lee’s parole did not allow him to take a new job for five years and required him to obtain official permission to travel abroad, according to South Korea. Mail Business News. The forgiveness means Lee may finally be able to become chairman of Samsung Electronics – a position that has stuck vacant since the death of his father in October 2020.
“I will do my best for the national economy,” Lee told reporters on Friday, according to Maeil Business News.
Lee’s legal troubles aren’t over. He still faces charges of fraud and stock manipulation, Reuters.