Calls for Samsung Group chief Lee Jae-yong to be pardoned continue to grow as the conglomerate gears up to face challenges in the global chip market. Lee Chan-hee, the chairman of Samsung’s ethics committee, has called on the government to pardon the Samsung heir. The leadership vacancy caused by his conviction is leaving Samsung in a vulnerable state.
The external business environment is changing rapidly and Samsung needs effective leadership to find an advantageous position for itself. As advanced chips have become a geopolitical tool for the US and China, many business groups believe that Lee should be pardoned to enable Samsung to take advantage of new business opportunities.
Calls for a pardon have reached a fever pitch
Lee Chan-hee believes that it’s imperative for Lee Jae-yong to resume the conglomerate’s leadership so that Samsung can play a more significant role. “If the top management of Samsung cannot manage the group properly due to the trial, Koreans will eventually suffer. So, I want the government to make a decision according to the will of the people,” the group’s ethics chief said.
Lee Jae Yong, the Samsung Group chief and vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, was sentenced to two years and six months in prison back in January 2021 on charges of bribing impeached President Park Geun-hye. He was released on parole in August last year. The law imposes a five-year employment ban on him which means he can’t legally return to management until 2027.
Many local business groups also support the idea. They feel that given Lee has an absolute role in Samsung’s investment activities, it should be possible for him to manage the group aggressively so that Samsung can undertake large-scale corporate acquisitions. Rumors have floated that Samsung Electronics may be interested in buying chip companies but no deal has materialized as yet. The leadership vacuum at the very top could be a reason why.
Whether a pardon will be forthcoming from newly elected President Yoon Seok-youl is another matter, even though the majority of South Koreans feel that Lee Jae-yong should be pardoned.
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