|Lee Kun-hee(left) and Lee Maeng-hee|
The Seoul High Court turned down Thursday an inheritance suit against Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee lodged by his elder brother Maeng-hee, upholding a lower court’s previous ruling in favor of the younger Lee.
“The court judged that the plaintiff (and other siblings) implicitly agreed on (Samsung chairman) Lee’s inheritance of shares in Samsung Group affiliates including Samsung Life Insurance and Samsung Electronics since they did not file any complaint about it for a long period of time,” said the court in its ruling.
The court also said even though it seemed there was no discussion or consensus among the heirs and heiresses on how to split the inherited properties of late Samsung founder Lee Byung-chull, they seemed to have tacitly conceded that the Samsung shares were handed over to Samsung chairman Lee as publicly said by the Samsung founder before his death.
The latest ruling is in line with the previous ruling by a lower court in 2013, in which the court said the plaintiffs including Lee Maeng-hee, a former chairman of Cheil Fertilizer, and Sook-hee, the older sister of the Samsung chairman, had no right to claim the inheritance since the defendant had held the inherited assets for more than 10 years.
The siblings and other family members filed a lawsuit in 2012, demanding the Samsung chairman return Samsung shares worth 4 trillion won ($3.7 billion).
After the lower court dismissed the suit in February last year, the eldest son of late Samsung founder Lee appealed to the high court alone, requesting the court to order his brother to return 940 billion won worth of shares for the insurance and electronics affiliates of Samsung Group.
A Samsung official present at the court Thursday said Samsung hopes to put an end to the tug-of-war so it can focus on business management.
The feud between the business moguls, however, seems far from over as the aides and lawyers for Lee Maeng-hee hinted their will to appeal to the Supreme Court.
One of Lee Maeng-hee’s lawyers said he would decide to file the appeal after discussing the matter with the former Cheil Fertilizer chairman.
There are also different views, however, that older Lee would not go through another round of lawsuit because of the burgeoning costs of the legal battles so far.
The elder brother of the Samsung chairman has to pay more than 20 billion won for legal fees including those for lawyers.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)