Lee Jae Yong, heir to the Samsung Group and vice chairman of the tech giant’s supervisory board, is released early from prison in South Korea. The entrepreneur was released from prison alongside some 1,700 other inmates as part of a special pardon.
Lee Jae Yong: Samsung heir pardoned in South Korea
Charged with stock manipulation and accounting fraud, Lee Jae Yong was indicted in September 2020 and sentenced to two and a half years in prison in January 2021 before being released on parole in August of that year.
Now Samsung’s vice chairman of the supervisory board, son of Lee Kun-hee and grandson of Samsung’s founder, has been granted a full pardon, dpa reports. The 54-year-old benefits from a decree issued by South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who confirmed the special pardon of some 1,700 prisoners on Aug. 12.
According to the report, the decree will take effect on Korea’s National Liberation Day on Aug. 15, when the country celebrates independence from Japan. Until Aug. 15, 1945, North and South Korea were part of the Empire of Japan.
For years, however, the holiday has also served as an occasion in South Korea to grant special pardons to prisoners. Years ago, Lee’s father, who was also behind bars for tax evasion and corruption, benefited from this.
Pardon as economic engine
With his pardon, Lee Jae Yong will then also be able to continue running the electronics company. A South Korean government statement obtained by the Financial Times said:
“In an effort to weather the economic crisis and revive the economy, Lee Jae-yong, the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics whose suspended prison sentence recently ended, will be reinstated to his post.”
The pardon will benefit even more managers from companies important to South Korea, who are expected to resume their posts as a result of the release, thus reviving the country’s economic growth, which has been struggling at the latest as a result of the COVID pandemic, and creating new jobs.
In Samsung’s case, the company had many important decisions postponed to an unspecified date by Lee’s imprisonment, which can now be addressed again once Lee resumes his post next week.
In this context, the favoritism of wealthy families when it comes to punishment waivers is not uncommon in South Korea. In the past, South Korea often put economic and financial interests above the law.
Otherwise, things are not going badly at all for Samsung. Just a few days ago, the company presented the new Galaxy Z Fold4 and Galaxy Z Flip4 smartphones together with the Galaxy Watch5 series of smartwatches, as well as the new Galaxy Buds2 Pro.