SEOUL— Samsung ’s de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, will be released from prison on parole later this week, though it remains unclear how—or if—he can return to work right away at South Korea’s largest conglomerate.
Mr. Lee, who had been serving a 30-month prison sentence for bribing South Korea’s ex-president, was among a list of inmates granted parole at a Monday review meeting, according to South Korea’s justice ministry. He is expected to be released on Friday.
Mr. Lee, also known as Jay Y. Lee, plays a vital role atop a business enterprise that spans dozens of affiliates, including its crown jewel electronics division that is the world’s largest maker of smartphones, semiconductors and televisions. Major decisions require his signoff.
But the 53-year-old grandson of Samsung’s founder may not be allowed to resume his duties. Under South Korean law, individuals who commit economic crimes are subject to a five-year employment ban, while those paroled face restrictions on overseas travel.
The Justice Ministry, which approves such exemptions, didn’t comment on the matter. In a briefing on Monday evening, Justice Minister Park Beom-kye said Mr. Lee’s parole had factored in “the nation’s economic situation due to the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the global economic environment.”