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Samsung heir pardoned due to South Korean economic needs

Enlarge / Jay Y. Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., leaves the Seoul Central District Court in Seoul, South Korea, on Friday. After a presidential pardon, Lee is poised to retake control of South Korea’s largest commercial entity. (credit: Getty Images)

Samsung Electronics Vice-Chair Jay Y. Lee received a presidential pardon Friday for his role in a 2016 political scandal, a move the South Korean government says is necessary so the country’s largest chaebol can help steady the national economy.

“In a bid to overcome the economic crisis by vitalizing the economy, Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong… will be reinstated,” the Korean government stated in a joint press release from its ministries, according to Bloomberg News.

Lee, 54, known as Lee Jae-yong in Korea, was arrested in February 2017 on charges that he was complicit in Samsung paying millions in bribes to various organizations tied to a presidential advisor in order to win favor for an $8 billion merger of two Samsung Group units. In August 2017, Lee was convicted of perjury, embezzlement, hiding assets outside the country, and being one of five Samsung executives who paid $6.4 million in bribes to ex-South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

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