South Korea’s vice president and de facto head of Samsung, Lee Jae-yong will be released from custody Aug. 13 after serving 18 months in prison on bribery, embezzlement and other charges. The businessman will be released in connection with an amnesty announced to commemorate Korea’s 1945 Liberation Day from the Japanese invaders. The Federation of Korean Industries, the big business lobby, and high public support will allow Lee Jae-yong to leave prison early.
The head of Samsung will be one of 810 people who will be released on Friday as part of an amnesty announced. Lee Jae-yong was eligible for parole after serving 60 percent of his 30-month sentence.
South Korea’s Ministry of Justice stresses that its parole decision was influenced by public opinion and Lee Jae-yong’s good behavior while in custody. A collective petition was submitted to the agency and signed by 1, 700 citizens of the Republic of Korea.
Both politicians and businesses have spoken out in favor of Lee Jae-yong’s release. They fear that without Lee, it is impossible to find a solution to major investments and MA projects.
Representatives of the Federation of Korean Industries said Samsung’s $17 billion plant could fall behind direct rivals Intel Corp and TSMC in chip production without Lee Jae-yong’s involvement.
The head of Samsung after his release will not be able to engage in activities related to his work before his imprisonment, as the law of the Republic of Korea imposes such restrictions for up to 5 years. An exception could be an action by the country’s Ministry of Justice that would allow Lee Jae-yong to return to work.
Public support for the Samsung chief’s parole was about 70 percent, polls showed. Many civic groups criticized South Korean incumbent President Moon Jae-in, accusing him of hypocrisy.
Seoul Court in 2017. sentenced Lee Jae-yong to five years in prison in a case involving more than $6 million in bribes. The following year, the real term was commuted to probation. In 2019, the case was sent back for retrial. In January of this year, Lee Jae-yong returned to prison. This corruption scandal is related to former President Park Geun-hye of the Republic of Korea. She was sentenced to 25 years in prison and a $17.8 million fine for abuse of power, bribery, extortion, and disclosure of state secrets.
In April of this year. it became known that the heirs of former Samsung CEO Lee Gong Hee, including Lee Jae Yong, will have to pay an inheritance tax of $10.8 billion to South Korean authorities. Lee Gong Hee died in October 2020 and his fortune is estimated at about $20 billion.