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South Korea pardons Samsung's Lee Jae-yong to encourage 'business activities'

Seoul, South Korea — South Korea's president has formally announced thatSamsung's heir, Jae-young Lee, was released on parole a year after he was released on bribery charges. pardon Former President Park Geun-hyewas announced Friday by the Minister of Justice as part of a massive corruption scandal that overthrew her government.

Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin and others Two top business leaders will be pardoned as well, extending South Korea's history of tolerance for convicted business tycoons and serious white-collar crimes. They are among about 1,700 who will be pardoned on Monday, a national holiday that President Yoon Seok-yeol celebrates the liberation of South Korea from Japanese colonial rule at the end of World War II. 10}

READ MORE: How South Korea's Yoon Suk-yeol used anti-feminist backlash to win the presidency

Lee's pardon, which was released on parole in August 2021 with one year remaining in his 30-month term, underscores Samsung's significant influence over countries dependent on technology exports. He was found guilty of bribing Park and her best friend to gain government support for her 2015 merger between her two Samsung affiliates, which strengthened Lee's control over the corporate empire. received.

Lotte's Shin was given a suspended prison sentence in 2018 on similar charges against Park, for whichthen-President Moon Jae-inpardoned him in December. handed down. In addition, Dongguk Steel Chairman Jang Se-joo and former STX Group Chairman Kang Duk-soo will be pardoned.

Justice Minister Han Dong-hoon said the amnesty for business tycoons was aimed at "overcoming the economic crisis by encouraging business activity." Yoon previously told reporters his pardon could help create a "peace of mind" in his troubled family life. As Vice Chairman of Samsung Electronics, one of the world's largest manufacturers of electronic devices, he runs theSamsung Group. He was released by the Moon administration and has since defended its decision over unspecified concerns related to the economy and the COVID-19 pandemic.

I am very grateful to have been given the opportunity to start

He said, ``I apologize for causing concern to many people because of my shortcomings.

Lee faces a separate trial on charges of stock price manipulation and audit violations related to the 2015 merger.

The coalition of civic groups, including People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, released a statement criticizing Yoon's attempt to pardon Lee Jae-yong and other business tycoons, saying that Yoon had He accused them of being in tune with the "zaibatsu". A family-run conglomerate that controls the country's economy.

"President Yoon Suk-yeol's sale [to a business mogul] sends a signal to chaebol chiefs that they are free to commit any crime they wish." the group said.

However, recent polls show that South Koreans, in late 2016 and 2017, were largely He supports pardoning Mr. Lee, which reflects Samsung's influence in South Korea. The smartphones people use, the TVs, the countries that provide credit cards, the apartments they live in, and the hospitals where they are born and die.

Business leaders and politicians are also seeking Lee's pardon, and they want Samsung to be bolder in business decision-making by fully restoring its right to run its business empire. and to act quickly, he said. South Korean law prohibits people convicted of serious financial crimes from returning to work for five years after completing their sentences.

Critics say that even when Mr. Lee was in prison, he always controlled Samsung, and after his parole almost fully resumed his managerial duties. increase. Former Minister of Justice Park Bum-gye, who served under the Moon administration, said his activities did not violate the five-year ban because the billionaire heiress has not received wages. defended Lee's involvement in the management of from samsung.

Park Geun-hye conspired with her long-time close friend Choi Soon-sil to buy Samsung and other major companies during her tenure.

She faces more than 20 years in prison until President Moon pardoned her in December, citing the need to promote unity in a politically divided country. Was. Choi remains in prison. Chan was released on parole in 2018 and had about six months left on his three-and-a-half-year prison sentence for embezzling millions of dollars in corporate funds, some of which he used to gamble in Las Vegas.

Last year, South Korea's Supreme Court upheld a suspended prison sentence for Kang, who led STX from 2003 to 2014, on charges of embezzlement of corporate funds and other crimes.

A notable person excluded from Yoon's pardon is former President Lee Myung-bak, who faced a string of corruption charges of his own after prosecutors admitted to his health problems. He was temporarily released from a 17-year prison sentence in May.

Before his downfall, CEO-turned-Conservative hero Lee took bribes from big companies, including Samsung, embezzled funds from companies he owned, Convicted of other corruption-related crimes.

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