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Calls For Samsung Boss To Be Released From Jail Due To Chip Crisis

Pressure is mounting for the de facto chief, of Samsung Lee Jae-yong to be released from jail so that he can negotiate the Companies role in the current chip crisis which is crippling production of tech products around the world.

Samsung is seen as a key global player in the processor market and the South Korean Government is concerned that he is in jail while the crisis is being played out.

Last week it was revealed that after South Korea closed a deal with Pfizer after Lee Jae-yong, picked up the phone and negotiated the supply of additional vaccine for 20 million people in a deal that soothed public worries over a shortage.

The Vice chairman of Samsung, who has been in prison since January for bribing former President Park Geun-hye, acted as a bridge between the Korean government and Pfizer.

Lee Kun-hee, former chair of Samsung.

While the Moon Jae-in government had no channels with the top leadership of the US vaccine developer until early December, Lee used his personal network and sought the help of Shantanu Narayen, chairman of the US computer software company Adobe, who was an independent director of Pfizer.

Samsung’s efforts to support the government in securing vaccines were disclosed right after Lee was put behind bars Jan. 18, when the Seoul High Court handed down a 2 1/2-year sentence in a retrial of the bribery case involving former President Park.

Now various sectors of Korean society are calling on the government to grant a special pardon for Lee.

Samsung Lee Jae-yong

The country’s major business lobby groups plan to submit a letter to the government this week recommending the pardon.

The five major lobby groups — the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Korea Enterprises Federation, the Korea Federation of SMEs, the Korea International Trade Association, and the Federation of Middle Market Enterprises of Korea — have agreed to present a letter to the government within the month recommending a pardon for Lee, industry sources said.

It’s also been revealed that the scions of Samsung Group, South Korea’s top conglomerate, are likely to unveil a plan this week on how to finance their massive inheritance tax, which includes the donation of late group chief Lee Kun-hee’s art collections.

The senior Lee, who was South Korea’s richest man, left more than $25 Billion dollars’ worth of assets, including stocks valued around 19 trillion won.

The late group chief is estimated to have owned about 13,000 art pieces, including national treasures and paintings from renowned artists, like Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol.

Industry insiders speculated that Lee’s family may opt to pay inheritance taxes in instalments. They can pay one-sixth of inherited assets by the end of this month and pay the rest over the next five years.

Lee’s family members may have to spend about 2 trillion won annually for their inheritance tax bills and are likely to pay the tax bill with their stock dividends.

Last month, the 52-year-old tycoon received surgery for appendicitis at Samsung Medical Center in southern Seoul and stayed there for about a month. He was transferred back to prison last week.


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