The billionaire head of South Korea’s Samsung empire will be released from jail on Friday after serving part of a 30-month sentence for bribing former South Korean president Park Geun-hye.
Lee Jae-yong, vice president and de facto leader of Samsung, will be released on August 13, the country’s justice minister announced at a live television conference.
Lee was embroiled in a major corruption scandal that toppled the government of former South Korean President Park Geun-hye in 2016. She was sentenced to 20 years in prison and fined 18 billion won (£ 12 million).
Lee, 53, has served 18 months of a revised 30-month sentence. He initially served one year of a five-year sentence from August 2017, which was later suspended. That court decision was later overturned and, although the sentence was shortened, he was sent back to jail in January this year.
“The decision to grant [the] The vice president of Samsung Electronics … the probation was the result of a comprehensive review of various factors, such as public sentiment and good behavior during detention, ”the ministry said in a statement Monday.
He is among 810 other prisoners who have been granted parole on the occasion of the country’s Liberation Day, which marks the liberation of Korea from Japanese imperial rule in 1945. Last year, more than 600 prisoners were released on Liberation Day.
Support for his parole, both political and public and from the broader business community, had grown amid anxiety that the South Korean tech giant would not make key strategic decisions.
The Federation of Korean Industries, a big business lobby group, welcomed the decision to grant Lee parole. “If the currently stagnant investment clock does not run out quickly, we could fall behind global companies like Intel and TSMC and lose the bread and butter of the Korean economy at any moment,” he said.
Lee still needs the justice minister to approve his return to work, as the law prohibits people with certain convictions from working for companies related to those convictions for five years.
The scandal, which rocked South Korean society, was sparked by Lee’s attempts to persuade the government to facilitate the succession of the Samsung empire from his father Lee Kun-hee, who was hospitalized after a heart attack in 2014 and died on last year.
The court ruled that Lee “actively provided bribes and implicitly asked the president to use his power to help his succession smoothly.”
“It is very unfortunate that Samsung, the nation’s leading company and a proud global innovator, is repeatedly involved in crime every time there is a change in political power.”
Earlier this year, the family said it would pay more than 12 trillion won (£ 7.8 billion) in inheritance taxes and donate its collection of more than 23,000 works of art, including pieces by Salvador Dalí, Pablo Picasso. and Jean-Michel Basquiat, and one by Claude Monet. water lily paintings – to the national museums of South Korea.