September 20, 2021

Samsung leader paroled, to be released from jail on Friday

Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong will be released from prison on Friday after he was granted parole by the local justice ministry.

South Korea’s Ministry of Justice on Monday decided to grant parole to Lee after a parole committee meeting held ahead of the country’s Liberation Day holiday on August 15.

South Korea review and grant parole or pardons around the holiday for prisoners, which sometimes include politicians and those involved in high-profile cases. 

Justice Minister Park Beom-kye said at a briefing the same day that the decision to include Lee as a candidate for early release was done in light of the impact the prolonged COVID-19 pandemic is having on the national and global economies.

Park said the parole committee reached its decision after reviewing “the current social atmosphere of South Korea as well his attitude and behavior during incarceration.”

Lee was one of 151 candidates that were up for parole this year around the Liberation Day holiday.

The Samsung Electronics vice chairman and de facto leader of the entire business group was jailed for a second time in January this year.

He was sentenced to two and a half years in prison by the Seoul High Court after being found guilty of bribing former South Korea President Park Geun-hye and her aide to gain government support for a merger between two Samsung affiliates.

Lee was first jailed in 2017 after being sentenced for the same charges by a district court. He was freed the following year after an appellate court handed him a suspended sentence of two and a half years.

However, in 2019, the Supreme Court ordered a retrial, saying the appellate court had dismissed some key evidence and charges against Lee. The Samsung leader was jailed again from conclusion of that retrial in January this year.

Though Lee has been set free, he is still under a separate trial for alleged stock price manipulation involving the two Samsung affiliates.

In April, Samsung announced that Lee and other family members of the late Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee will pay over 12 trillion won, or around $10.8 billion, in taxes related to inheritance. The family will be paying the full amount over a period of five years in six installments.

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