Vice Premier and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki has asked if he will discuss the possible release of jailed Samsung Electronics Vice President Lee Jae-yong when he meets with the country’s five major pressure groups. next week.
Lee is serving a two-and-a-half-year prison sentence following a guilty verdict in a corruption lawsuit involving disgraced former president Park Geun-hye.
The business community should ask for Lee’s pardon, as part of a repeated move to ensure sound business management for the leading semiconductor maker amid the escalating battle for US-Chinese hegemony on computer products. The same request was made at the last meeting in April.
Lee is prohibited by law from participating in the management of the company because of the guilty verdict. Many think this is just a technical detail and he still wields immense influence within the company as the grandson of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chull.
The five are the chairman of the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Chey Tae-won, the chairman of the Korea Business Federation Sohh Kyung-shik, the chairman of the Korea International Trade Association (KITA ) Koo Ja-yeol, Chairman of the Federation of Korean Middle Market Enterprises Kang Ho -gap and Kim Ki-moon, Chairman of the Korean Federation of SMEs (KBIZ).
Leaders are likely to urge Lee’s release in time for National Liberation Day Aug. 15, when presidential pardons will be granted to jailed figures, including heads of major conglomerates.
Industry watchers say parole is more likely than an outright pardon, since Lee has served more than 60% of his prison sentence.
The government and the ruling Democratic Party of Korea are reportedly discussing Lee’s eligibility and parole.
This is corroborated by a recent survey conducted by local pollster Realmeter of 500 men and women on July 23. The results showed that 66.6% of those surveyed were in favor of his parole on the day of release.