South Korea’s presidential office agreed to pardon Samsung Electronics Co, Ltd (OTC: SSNLF) de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, also known as Jay Y. Lee, on August 15 to propel the nation’s economy, the Wall Street Journal reports.
It marks a landmark move by President Yoon Suk-yeol, who assumed office in May.
The country decided to relieve Lee of his criminal record from his 2017 conviction. The government imprisoned him twice for bribing South Korea’s former President.
But the grandson of Samsung’s founder could still go behind bars pending legal woes related to an accounting scandal. Lee has denied wrongdoing.
All significant decisions across the Samsung conglomerate, which spans smartphones, insurance, and electronic-vehicle batteries, require Lee’s signoff.
Lee, 54 years old, had won parole a year ago from a 30-month sentence tied to his bribery conviction. His release came with restrictions, including a five-year employment ban and limits on overseas travel.
Over the past year he made some business trips to the U.S., Europe, and the Middle East and represented Samsung at public events. Since October 2019, Lee has technically been an unregistered director at Samsung.
Lee is now free to take a more active management role, implying more mergers and acquisitions or bold investments, industry experts suggested. It may also include assuming the chairmanship, which has remained vacant since his father’s 2020 death.
The President pardoned other prominent South Korean business leaders, including Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin, to help overcome the economic crisis.
Samsung aims to invest 450 trillion won ($356 billion) in the next five years to accelerate growth in semiconductors, biopharma, and other next-gen tech.
Samsung clocked a 20% Y/Y revenue growth in Q2. The consolidated operating profit increased 12% Y/Y.
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