The Korea Herald


[News Focus] Will Samsung chief take legal action against siblings?

By Korea Herald

Published : Feb. 29, 2012 - 17:04

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Industry sources say Samsung is on the lookout for lawyer

All eyes are on the future course of action Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee will take in response to inheritance suits from his sister and brother.

Industry sources close to the matter raised the possibility that Lee will refuse compromise and seek to end the dispute through a legal means.

The sources said the country’s largest conglomerate is currently on the lookout to hire a lawyer who would officially take charge of the legal process.

The law firms whose names are being circulated in the business sector to represent Samsung chairman Lee are Kim & Chang, Lee & Ko and Shin & Kim.

“Although we’ve worked towards concluding the issue, we’ve also been preparing for the legal procedures since chairman Lee is involved in the suits,” a Samsung executive told local media. “We’re also on the watch for a representative lawyer (following the additional suit raised by Lee’s elder sister earlier this week).”

Another industry source also said that the legal measures will be soon put into practice.

However, Samsung’s official stance on the matter was to stay mum, stating that the issues surrounding the inheritance were straightened out and closed 25 years ago.

On Feb. 12, Lee Maeng-hee, who is the eldest son of Samsung Group founder Lee Byung-chull, filed an inheritance suit against his younger brother Lee Kun-hee at the Seoul Central District Court.

The elder Lee asked the court to order Samsung chairman to return 8.24 million shares in Samsung Life Insurance Co. and 20 stocks in Samsung Electronics, along with 100 million won ($89,000).

About two weeks after the suit was filed, Lee Kun-hee’s older sister Lee Sook-hee also decided to file suit with the same court on grounds that she also had her share in Samsung Life Insurance and Samsung Electronics left behind by the group founder. Both suits have been taken up by the firm Yoon and Yang LLC, better known as Hwawoo here.

In the meantime, CJ Group also claimed that an employee from one of Samsung’s affiliate shadowed CJ chairman Lee Jay-hyun for days, drawing a connection to the family inheritance fight. Lee Jay-hyun is the oldest son of Lee Maeng-hee, who was the first to raise the inheritance suit.

In the rush of such events, however, Samsung had been maintaining low profile for weeks. Lee Kun-hee also did not submit his lawyer appointment contract to the court.

It was known earlier that CJ Group had delivered a message to Samsung Group stating that it would convince the CJ chairman’s father Lee Maeng-hee not to take it to court.

But Lee Sook-hee’s filing of the inheritance suit has changed Samsung stance regarding the issue.

There is also a possibility that other siblings of chairman Lee ― who has one brother and five sisters excluding his deceased elder brother Lee Chang-hee ― may join the inheritance suit filing.

Hansol Group adviser and the eldest Lee In-hee is the only one who is against the inheritance suit as of now, opening up chances for further legal battles.

“We have a tough economic environment just to look ahead and make headway for the chairman and our employees,” said Samsung chief public relations officer Rhee In-yong. “We’re concerned and pitiful that such suits have been raised.”

By Cho Ji-hyun (