Lee reportedly sent an email to employees of the mobile company that said, “I have made the decision to step down as I don’t want to watch my workers suffer from allegations and prosecutorial investigations anymore.”
He also said that, “I will make an effort to help my successor lead the company well by completing all remaining tasks.”
Prosecutors and investigators conducted a raid at the headquarters and offices of KT in Seoul and Gyeonggi Province last Friday following a previous probe targeted at offices and houses of the chairman and executives of the firm.
Lee, who took the helm of the mobile carrier in 2009, is accused of breach of trust by creating slush funds.
It is reported that he created the funds by overpaying high-ranking executives and taking the excess amount from the salary for himself.
The prosecutors are also looking into allegations that he embezzled company funds.
The investigation comes amid growing speculation that the Park Geun-hye government has been seeking to force the chairman, who took helm under former President Lee Myung-bak, out of his post. Such measures are customarily taken against companies such as KT that have for long periods been operated by the state. KT is currently privately-run.
The People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, a leading civic group, filed a lawsuit against Lee Suk-chae in February alleging that he caused losses to the telecommunications firm by leading an acquisition of another company at a much-inflated price.
The civic group also argued that Lee had caused up to 87 billion won in damages when selling 39 offices of the firm since 2010 until last year.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)