South Korea's chief financial regulator said Monday that efforts are being made to find a "reasonable" option to impose a fine on Lee Kun-hee, chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., who allegedly withdrew 4.4 trillion won ($4.1 billion) from accounts under borrowed names.
Earlier, the Financial Services Commission, the country's financial regulator, asked the Ministry of Government Legislation to clarify whether it could levy a fine against Lee.
"We will find a reasonable way, taking into consideration other government agencies' stances," FSC Chairman Choi Jong-ku told reporters.
Samsung chairman, Lee Kun Hee. (AP)
Lee has been criticized for withdrawing the money without paying taxes or a fine, although he allegedly violated a law that bans financial transactions with borrowed-name accounts.
The FSC said that Lee should pay taxes on the money, but it is difficult for the government to fine Lee under the current law.
The public scrutiny of Lee's assets again put the spotlight on the 2008 investigation in which Lee was convicted on charges of tax evasion and breach of trust.
At that time, prosecutors found that Lee owned assets, believed to be inherited from his father and the founder of Samsung Group, Lee Byung-chull, in about 1,200 accounts held by his lieutenants.
Last October, Rep. Park Yong-jin of the governing Democratic Party raised allegations that financial authorities had allowed Lee to inherit the assets without paying taxes.
A 1993 law requires South Koreans to open bank or other financial accounts using their real names.
Authorities can levy taxes on 99 percent of interest and dividend income earned from "non real-name assets." (Yonhap)