Mr. Samsung gets his pardon

From Jiyoung Sohn and Hakyung Kim's "Samsung Leader Jay Y. Lee Receives Presidential Pardon for Bribery Conviction" in Friday's Wall Street Journal:

Samsung’s de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, will receive a pardon on Monday, South Korea’s presidential office said, a legal reprieve underpinned by expectations that the business tycoon will help propel the nation’s economy.

Mr. Lee, twice imprisoned for bribing South Korea’s former president, will have his criminal record from his 2017 conviction wiped clean. But the grandson of Samsung’s founder still has unresolved legal woes related to an accounting scandal that could land him back in jail if he is found guilty. Mr. Lee, who goes by Jay Y. Lee in the West, has denied wrongdoing.

“I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to make a new start,” Mr. Lee said in a statement following the announcement of the pardon. “I will work hard to fulfill my responsibility as an entrepreneur,” he said.

All major decisions across the Samsung conglomerate, which spans smartphones to insurance to electronic-vehicle batteries, require Mr. Lee’s signoff.

My take: Channeling Bartley Yee...

Not unexpected.  Business as usual in S. Korea, Presdential pardon, record expunged, sure to have some political contributions. But must save face and keep Samsung going.

Sad, IMO.  Certainly feels like many are above the law.  There and here.


  1. Bart Yee said:
    From Reuters:

    “With urgent needs to overcome the national economic crisis, we carefully selected economic leaders who lead the national growth engine through active technology investment and job creation to be pardoned,” Justice Minister Han Dong Hoon told a briefing.“

    Also pardoned by the pro-business Yoon was Lotte Group chairman Shin Dong-bin, who was sentenced to a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence on charges of bribery, also related to Park.

    In a statement, Lotte said Shin would also help in “overcoming the complex global crisis.”

    Chang Sae-joo, chairman of Dongkuk Steel Mill, and former STX Group Chairman Kang Duk-soo will also receive clemency from their own convictions.

    Another jailed former president, Lee Myung-bak, had been expected to be pardoned after Yoon raised the possibility in June, but was ultimately not on the list. He was arrested in 2018 and sentenced to 17 years in prison for corruption, embezzlement and bribery.”

    Lee was CEO of Hyundai before becoming a politician. From Wikipedia:
    Lee was detained on 22 March 2018 on charges of receiving 11 billion Korean won (~US$10 million) worth of bribes and slush funds worth 35 billion Korean won (~US$33 million).[142]

    He is accused of taking bribes from Samsung of nearly $6 million in exchange for a presidential pardon for Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee who was in prison for tax evasion and stock fraud. It is alleged that this money was used to pay legal fees for DAS, a car-parts manufacturing firm owned by Lee’s brother.[143]“

    August 12, 2022
    • Bart Yee said:
      Lee Kun-hee was father of Jay Lee and was convicted twice, once in 1996 and subsequently in 2008, for corruption and tax evasion charges, but was pardoned on both instances. He suffered a heart attack in 2014, became comatose and was kept in a Samsung hospital completely out of the public eye and view, never allowed to be seen by independent doctors or government officials and apparently kept alive (?) on life support until “dying” in October 2020. Perhaps some would say I’m a conspiracist, but this “death” happened long after lots of legal maneuvering by Jay Lee and his family to tighten overlapping control of Samsung and to prevent a sudden triggering of inheritance taxes (at the time $7.5B USD) which earlier in the decade would have forced sale of some parts of Samsung conglomerate. As it is, the Samsung family have still amassed a tax of $10.8B as of Oct. 2021, and will be paying it in installments over 5 years. Donation of elder Lee’s vast art collection to national museums will be tax deductible.

      I like the Korean people and their alliances with the US but despise this cultural and intertwining of Chaebol influence over legal matters and convictions. Does not anyone think there are competent leaders other than these “businessmen families” to lead these companies? IMO, it’s all about Asian control and of course lots and lots of $$$$$$ and power. That is precisely why I have no interest in Samsung products save for a few SSD’s I bought years back.

      As PED quoted me, it’s business as usual in S. Korea. Shades of American robber baron history though.

      August 12, 2022
  2. Gary Gouriluk said:
    Almost wholesome compared to American Presidential pardons!

    August 12, 2022
  3. Kirk DeBernardi said:
    No bad deed goes unrewarded.

    Smells like quid pro quo.

    August 14, 2022

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