South Korean prosecutors indicted the inheritor to the Samsung empire Tuesday over a controversial merger of two enterprise items seen as a key step in direction of his succession, within the newest authorized blow to the sprawling conglomerate.
Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, dedicated inventory manipulation, breach of belief and different offences when two different subsidiaries, Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries, merged in 2015, the prosecutors mentioned.
Ten different present and former high Samsung executives had been additionally charged.
Lee and his subordinates had carried out “a systemic scheme to take management of the Samsung Group with the least value”, mentioned the prosecution, by deploying “numerous unfair transactions” that broken different shareholders’ pursuits.
Lee is already individually being re-tried on costs of bribery, embezzlement and different offences in reference to the corruption scandal that introduced down former South Korean president Park Geun-hye.
The businessman was not detained, however the costs are prone to show a distraction as his agency seeks to navigate the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.
Samsung Electronics is the flagship subsidiary of the group, which was based by Lee’s grandfather and has grown to develop into by far the most important of the family-controlled conglomerates, or chaebols, that dominate enterprise on the earth’s Twelfth-largest financial system.
Its total turnover is equal to a fifth of South Korea’s gross home product and is essential to the nation’s financial well being.
The agency noticed income rise in April-July with information centres shifting to stockpile its DRAM chips to fulfill surging demand for on-line actions because of international lockdowns.
However the South’s financial system shrank 3.2 % year-on-year in the identical interval, based on a revised estimate by the central Financial institution of Korea on Tuesday.
Samsung Electronics declined to touch upon Tuesday’s costs, referring inquiries to Lee’s authorized staff, who didn’t instantly difficulty an announcement.
‘Cloud of uncertainty’
Chaebol households typically have solely a small possession stake of their empires, however keep management by way of advanced webs of cross-shareholdings between items.
Lee was the biggest shareholder in Cheil Industries, and critics say Samsung sought to artificially decrease the worth of C&T to provide him a much bigger stake within the merged entity — a key a part of the Samsung construction — consolidating his grip on the conglomerate.
Lee’s newest authorized troubles add a layer of “uncertainty” to the corporate and will “burden the South’s financial system as an entire”, mentioned Kim Dae-jong, a enterprise professor at Sejong College in Seoul.
“The truth that he should stand one other trial creates a cloud of uncertainty and doubtless impacts Samsung’s long-term funding plans,” he advised AFP.
With the nation feeling the financial ache from the outbreak, “the timing is not good”, he added.
Some chaebol leaders who’ve been convicted up to now have subsequently acquired presidential pardons in recognition of their financial roles.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in campaigned partly on a promise of reforming the chaebols and the prosecution’s transfer got here regardless of a civilian assessment panel recommending Lee shouldn’t be indicted, citing a scarcity of proof.
Lee was jailed for 5 years in 2017 after being discovered responsible of bribery and different offences linked to former president Park, earlier than being cleared of probably the most critical costs on enchantment and launched a 12 months later. That case is presently being retried.
Lee apologised in Might over the problems, pledging to make sure “there might be no extra controversy over the succession” and that he wouldn’t permit his youngsters to take over from him on the agency.
“Our know-how and merchandise are being hailed as first-class however the public gaze in direction of Samsung nonetheless stays harsh,” he mentioned, bowing to the cameras. “That is my fault. I apologise.”
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