Samsung frontman Jay Y. Lee has been granted parole and will leave prison on Friday

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  • Samsung Electronics vice president to be released from prison on Friday
  • Lee still faces two more hardships
  • Decision on the company’s US $ 17 billion investment awaits

SEOUL, Aug. 9 (Reuters) – Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) Vice President Jay Y. Lee, in jail after convictions for bribery, embezzlement and other charges, has qualified for a parole and should be released from prison this Friday, according to the South Korean justice said the ministry.

“The decision to grant parole to Samsung Electronics’ vice president Jay Y. Lee is the result of a careful examination of various factors such as public opinion and good behavior during detention,” said the ministry in a statement Monday.

Convicted of bribing a friend of former President Park Geun-hye, Lee, 53, served 18 months of a revised 30-month sentence. He first served one year of a five-year sentence starting in August 2017, which was later suspended. This court decision was later overturned and although the sentence was shortened, he was returned to prison in January this year.

Support for his parole, both political and public and from the broader business community, had grown amid concerns that key strategic decisions were not being made at the drug giant. South Korean technology.

While the day-to-day operations of the world’s largest memory chip and smartphone maker have not been affected by its absence, company sources say decisions about major investments and proposed M&A plans shouldn’t be. be taken only by Lee. Read more

In particular, a decision on the location of a US $ 17 billion plant to produce advanced logic chips awaits its return at a time when there is a global shortage of chips and competitors like TSMC (2330.TW) and Intel Corp (INTC.O) are making big investments.

The Federation of Korean Industries, a large business lobby, said in a statement that it welcomed the decision to grant Lee parole.

“If the currently stalled investment clock is not liquidated quickly, we could lag behind global companies such as Intel and TSMC and lose the bread and butter of the Korean economy at all. moment.”

Lee still needs the Justice Minister to approve his return to work, as the law prohibits people with certain convictions from working for companies related to those convictions for five years.

He is likely to achieve this, according to legal experts, due to circumstances such as the deemed embezzled amount having been repaid.

Samsung Electronics declined to comment.

HIGH SUPPORT

The largest South Korean conglomerates are still owned and controlled by their founding families, and there is little precedent for handing over the reins to outsiders, even when an elderly family member has been jailed.

While polls have shown around 70% high public support for Lee’s parole, many civic groups have resisted, accusing President Moon Jae-In’s administration of hypocrisy after he came to power on a wave of anger over corruption in South Korea’s political and business circles. elite.

“If the administration that received it grants preferential parole to a chaebol owner, we must reconsider the very existence of the Moon Jae-in administration,” said Kim Ju-ho, head of the militant group Solidarité populaire for participatory democracy, using the local term to denote large family businesses.

Lee’s legal problems are not limited to the corruption conviction. He is also on trial charged with accounting fraud and stock price manipulation related to the 2015 merger of two Samsung companies.

A South Korean court also ruled in June that he should stand trial in a separate case in which he was charged with illegally using a sedative. Read more

Lee denied the charges in both cases.

Reporting by Joyce Lee, Heekyong Yang and Sangmi Cha; Written and edited by Edwina Gibbs and Kirsten Donovan

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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