Lee Jae-yong: Why South Korea just pardoned the Samsung ‘prince’

Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong – convicted of bribery and embezzlement in 2017 – has been granted a special presidential pardon.

One of South Korea’s most powerful white collar criminals, Lee was twice imprisoned for bribing a former president.

South Korea’s government justified the move, saying the de-facto leader of the country’s biggest company was needed back at the helm to spearhead economic recovery post-pandemic.

This marks another swing in a struggle over how the country is run that has raged since mass protests took over Seoul six years ago and ousted a president from office.

Lee’s crimes were directly tied up in the corruption scandal that led to the imprisonment of former president Park Geun-Hye, in office from 2013-2017.

The “Crown Prince of Samsung” – as he was dubbed by protesters – paid $8 million (£6.6m) in bribes to President Park and her associate to secure support for a merger opposed by shareholders that would shore up his control of his family’s empire.

When it…

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This article was written by and originally published on www.bbc.co.uk