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Global Economy

South Korea pardons Samsung heir Lee

In South Korea, Lee Jae-yong, heir to Samsung and de facto boss of the company convicted of corruption, has been pardoned. Justice Minister Han Dong Hoon announced the presidential pardon. Lee should help to overcome the country's economic crisis.

The decision is part of a special amnesty that will allow 1,600 South Koreans to have their sentences released. Among them are other managers who are now tasked with "relaunching the growth engine through active investment in technology and job creation," according to the Justice Department.

Corruption scandal involving former prime minister

Lee is officially only the deputy of the electronics giant Samsung, but in fact the boss. He was implicated in the former Prime Minister Park bribery scandal that led to the resignation of the government in 2017. Lee was jailed several times, but was paroled about a year ago.

However, he was still subject to a five-year work restriction, which will now be lifted with the special amnesty. This means that he can once again take on management tasks in the group, which is a leading manufacturer of memory chips and smartphones.

More managers pardoned

Samsung is critical to the health of South Korea's economy. The group's annual turnover corresponds to around 20 percent of the country's gross domestic product. The boss of another South Korean company conglomerate, the Lotte Group, was also pardoned. Shin Dong-bin had also been convicted of bribery. His prison sentence of several years will now be released, and he too is supposed to help in the economic crisis.

With information from Kathrin Erdmann, ARD Studio Tokyo

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