Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Samsung chairman, Lee Kun-hee, resigns over scandal

Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee, who had been indicted on tax evasion and other charges, said Tuesday he was stepping down after 20 years as chief of South Korea's biggest conglomerate. There is some news article from the New York times.
Special prosecutors Thursday indicted Lee on charges of evading 112.8 billion won ($113 million) in taxes, ending a three-month probe in the family-run conglomerate prompted by allegations of wrongdoing by a former Samsung lawyer. However, the Prosecutors dismissed the most explosive claim -that Samsung used affiliates to raise a slush fund to bribe influential South Koreans for lack of evidence. They also decided to indict Lee without arrest, saying his apprehension was too big a risk for South Korea, citing ''the extremely competitive global economic situation.''
These results from the special prosecutors provoked widespread criticism from Korean public. However, it is not expected for Lee Kun-hee to step down.
Besides his stepping down, Samsung said that it would eliminate its Strategic Planning Office, long a lightning rod for critics of its management structure. Samsung also said Lee would pay the taxes he is accused of evading and that $4.5 trillion of won ($4.5 billion) of his assets special investigators discovered in stock and bank accounts would not be used by Lee personally. Addressing two key issues, Samsung said it would not move into the banking sector, nor would it set up a holding company.
Lee Kun-hee’s decision was surprising to most of Korean people, but it is still controversial because the family succession structure is still intact.
For example, Park Won-suk, a senior official with the People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy, a leading shareholders' activist group said that "This cannot be considered a major reform measure even with Lee stepping down, because the management structure of Samsung is built up so that he can influence it as he wishes anyway."

Chairman Lee Kun-hee and Vice Chairman Lee Hak-soo

1 comment:

Joo-Eun Kim said...

I hold a strong opposition to how the Korean economy is arranged. It is almost akin to monopoly. Samsung, for example, possesses subsidiaries engaged in a wide array of industries such as electronics, automobiles, hotels, amusement parks, internet shopping, and so on. Its sister companies enjoy the same circumstances. Albeit, this type of economic system was beneficial for the Korean economy during the 1970s and 1980s, when Korea was undergoing high levels of growth. (you should explain why here) However, in current times, the same type of economic setup proves to be overwhelmingly difficult for smaller firms to grow. As the example of Samsung illustrates, the domination by "chaebol" conglomerates must be reformed for long-term economic development and progress.