He ran Samsung from prison. Then his country called him back

The Samsung boss is cleared of his convictions. The country says it needs him.

Samsung at CES 2020 in Las Vegas

Presidential pardon for Lee Jae-Yong . The South Korean billionaire and heir boss of Samsung has just been pardoned from his various convictions on Friday, August 12, at a time when the man had only served half of his sentence for corruption and embezzlement.

In reality, he would have only served 18 months in prison after his conditional release just a year ago. Now the President of South Korea has called him back to “help overcome the economic crisis” of the country. A gesture which, in the local tradition, is very common (these decisions usually take place on the day of the country’s Independence, August 15).

“Due to the global economic crisis, the dynamism and vitality of the national economy have deteriorated, and there are fears that the economic slump could be prolonged,” the justice ministry said in a statement, which said rely on the boss of Samsung to “ lead the country’s growth engine by actively investing in technology and creating jobs”.

Samsung is making eyes at South Korea

Lee Jae-Yong, boss and heir of Samsung Electronics, had taken the lead of the group after the death of his father Lee Kun-hee, in October 2020. Most of his pans relate to facts dating back to 2014 to 2017, at the time when other leaders of Samsung were also sentenced, such as former president Park Geun-Hye (who was sentenced to 20 years in prison).

“It is very unfortunate that Samsung, the country’s largest company and a global innovation flagship, is repeatedly implicated in crimes as soon as political power changes,” the South Korean court said in January 2021, following a judgment on Lee Jae-Yong’s corruption cases. The situation will not last forever.

To weigh on the economy of the country, the boss of Samsung can rely on multiple arguments. Already, the company accounts for a fifth of the national GDP, and it is now the world’s leading smartphone maker. What’s more, Lee Jae-Yong had promised an investment plan worth 343 billion euros in multiple sectors of the economy. The objective, inject funds over the next five years and create no less than 80,000 jobs.

Last year, when he was released on parole, the president of Samsung was already mentioned as “the model prisoner” and according to the media, a majority of the population agreed with his reintegration into the economy. Four years earlier, the setbacks of Lee Jae-Yong had raised thousands of activists in the streets.

Today’s decision is symbolic that it will not change anything: Lee Jae-Yong was already continuing to lead Samsung behind bars, communicating his decisions with his executives who came to visit him.


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