Business

Samsung heir apparent skips first shareholders’ meeting

Samsung spent much of 2017 embroiled in a corruption scandal that led to the ouster of South Korea’s former president Park Geun-hye. Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, widely believed to be the conglomerate’s heir apparent, was arrested on charges of bribery and corruption. He was later arrested and sentenced to five years in prison after a Seoul court found him guilty. He was released two months ago after his prison sentence was suspended.

Samsung Electronics held its Annual General Meeting of Shareholders for the 2017 financial year in Seoul today. It was the first such meeting after Lee Jae-yong’s release which was attended by 400 individual shareholders and institutional investors. Lee Jae-yong has been keeping a low profile since his release so it wasn’t surprising to see that he decided to skip the meeting.

Keeping a low profile

Lee Jae-yong denied wrongdoing throughout his trial but he was found guilty by the court and sentenced to five years in prison. He appealed to the Seoul High Court which not only reduced his original prison sentence by half but also suspended it which meant that he could walk out of jail that very day and he did.

He could go back to working at Samsung after his release as there was no law barring him from doing so. While reports out of South Korea suggest that he has been back at work, he’s keeping a low profile which is probably why he decided to skip the shareholders’ meeting.

The agenda items during the meeting included the approval of the full-year financial statement and election of new members to the Board of Directors. Samsung has reiterated its aim to further increase shareholder value by increasing dividends for 2018 to 2020.

“In 2018, we are committed to delivering another successful year by taking on new challenges and building the foundation for mid- to long-term sustainable growth,” said the Board’s Chairman Oh-Hyun Kwon.

Samsung Electronics will separate the Chairman of the Board and the Chief Executive Officer roles for the first time to enhance the Board’s independence so that it can evaluate the company’s performance more objectively and function with greater authority.

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