The Korea Herald


Samsung’s imprisoned chief barred from working at Samsung

By Song Su-hyun

Published : Feb. 17, 2021 - 16:51

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Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong (Yonhap) Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong (Yonhap)
Employment restrictions have been imposed on the jailed Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong following his conviction for bribery. Observers said, however, that since Lee is not employed by Samsung and holds only a symbolic title, the ban wouldn’t change the conglomerate’s top leadership.

According to local reports Wednesday, the Ministry of Justice notified the Samsung Group’s de facto chief of the employment ban against him and the procedures required to gain approval for reemployment.

Under the Act on the Aggravated Punishment of Specific Economic Crimes, a conviction of embezzlement or breach of trust involving amounts over 500 million won ($451,232) precludes an offender from working for the company involved.

Samsung’s Lee was slapped with a 2 1/2-year jail term Jan. 18 for providing a total of 8.68 billion won worth of bribes to former President Park Geun-hye and her confidant.

The employment restrictions last five years after the completion of the jail term.

The restrictions can be lifted only upon approval from the justice minister, if Lee applies for it.

However, the effectiveness of the restrictions on Lee remains questionable.

The heir resigned from Samsung’s board of directors in 2019 and has been working with no salary since then.

“The employment status of Lee does not put him under the restriction,” said an industry insider.

Even so, the restrictions would make it difficult for Lee to get involved in the management of Samsung while he’s in jail.

Industry watchers have had high expectations for Samsung’s new investments as Lee was just released from a four-week quarantine in jail. If any investment announcement is made, it will be viewed as Lee’s decision from jail.

Solidary for Economic Reform, a civic group here, argued in a statement on Feb. 9 that Lee should resign from the vice chairman post in accordance with the economic crime act and with the employment restrictions.

In a recent high-profile case, Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn will be free to return to Hanwha’s boardroom as the five-year restrictions placed on him will be lifted Thursday. Kim was sentenced in 2014 to imprisonment for three years, suspended for five years, for breach of trust.

He had to resign from the representative director’s position at seven affiliates, including holdings firm Hanwha Corp.

In Kim’s case, the employment ban was also based on the Act on the Safety Management of Guns, Swords, Explosives Etc., and the Framework Act on Construction Industry.

By Song Su-hyun (