Samsung’s boss has been released from prison on parole with a government spokesperson claiming his release was taken in the ‘national interest.’
Lee Jae-yong was convicted for bribery and corruption in Seoul High Court on January 2021 which sentenced him to 30 months in jail. He has been released after just 207 days, a year before his sentence was due to end.
In a brief statement given outside the detention centre Lee said, ”I’ve caused much concern for the people. I deeply apologise.
“I am listening to the concerns, criticisms, worries and high expectations for me. I will work hard” he continued.
Lee’s conviction was linked to a bribery case involving Park Geun-hye, the country’s former president, who remains in jail for corruption. While Lee was initially sentenced to five years imprisonment in August 2017 he was released after just one year.
He was sent back to jail this year during a retrial, but the Justice Ministry have once again granted him early release.
A spokesperson for the presidential office defended the parole decision. They said “(We) accept it as a choice for the national interest and hope for the people’s understanding.”
They added that the hope is for Lee to “help the country with respect to semiconductors and vaccines.”
Businesses have reportedly been calling for Lee’s release to help combat a global shortage of computer chips. Samsung is considering a multi-billion dollar investment in semiconductor facilities in the US which will boost the production of advanced logic chips.
While Lee remains subject to an employment ban for five years the government may well clear him to return to work. Samsung, which was set up by Lee’s grandfather in 1938, accounts for almost a fifth of South Korea’s stock market value.
Lee was among 810 prisoners who were released on South Korea’s Liberation Day which marks the lifting of Japanese imperial rule in 1945.