Former Samsung CEO convicted of bribery is pardoned and allowed to work again

Former Samsung president Lee Jae-yong has been pardoned by South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol. The businessman had been convicted of bribery and had a labor ban as part of that. The motivation for the grace is to stimulate the economy.

Reuters, among others, writes that that motivation was given in a statement from the South Korean Ministry of Justice. The South Korean government wants to pardon the ailing economy: “As it is urgently needed to overcome the national economic crisis, we have pardoned carefully chosen economic leaders who lead the national growth engine through active investment in technology and job creation,” said Justice Minister Han. Another businessman, Shin Dong-bin, is also pardoned. He was also convicted of bribery and given a 2.5-year prison sentence.

In response, the former Samsung CEO apologized and promised to “start over” and “do better to give back to society and grow together,” Bloomberg writes.

Whether Lee will actually return to Samsung is not certain. In any case, analysts Reuters spoke to expect it to. Anonymous sources from the news agency also state that major decisions at Samsung “should only be made by Lee,” according to those insiders. In any case, Samsung is currently not in top financial condition.

Lee was already active in the sector without working for Samsung. He is said to have attended a tour of Samsung’s chip factories, where Joe Biden and President Yoon were given a tour. He is also said to have held talks with ASML CEO Peter Wennink about the commissioning of ‘high-end equipment with a key role’.

The court found Lee guilty of bribery in 2017. Via dubious foundations and front men, the CEO is said to have paid a EUR 34 million bribe to former South Korean President Park Geun-hye. That would have happened in exchange for support with business deals.