Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Mercy for Samsung

President Lee Myung-bak has granted a pardon to 67-year old Lee Kun-hee, former Samsung chairman, who was convicted of embezzlement and tax evasion but not sentenced to prison. The pardon was justified, in part, so that Kun-hee could retain membership on the International Olympic Committee and help a South Korean city host the 2018 Winter Olympics. The People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy is complaining that the pardon is evidence of class bias in the justice system and that "Samsung lies above the law and the government.”

According to the New York Times:
Over the decades, corruption scandals have regularly rocked Samsung and other family-controlled conglomerates in South Korea that have led the country’s rapid industrialization and still dominate the export-driven economy. But judges have often given them light sentences, saying that incarcerating the big businessmen would disrupt the economy. In many cases, such sentences were quickly erased by presidential pardons, which have become almost an annual event, raising doubts among foreign investors hoping for tighter corporate governance in this major Asian economy.
Mr. Lee headed Samsung for more than two decades until he stepped down after the group’s former chief legal counsel, Kim Yong-chul, asserted in 2007 that Samsung had kept a stash of secret funds and run a network of bribery. The whistle-blower said Samsung used the money to influence officials, prosecutors, judges and politicians.
See story here.

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