Why Lee Jae-yong Is Backing the Compliance Committee with a Message from Prison

Cho Mi-deop 2021. 1. 22. 17:18
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Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics heads to the courtroom to attend his sentencing hearing on the case of abuse of state authority at the Seoul High Court in Seocho-gu, Seoul on January 18. Kim Ki-nam

Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, in prison for his involvement in the abuse of state authority, supported the company’s compliance committee with a message from prison.

On January 21, Samsung Electronics conveyed that through his lawyer, Lee “expressed his determination to continue supporting the activities of the compliance committee” and sincerely asked “the committee chairman and members to be faithful to their roles in the future.” This day, the compliance committee held its regular meeting at the Samsung Electronics Seocho office in Seoul.

Lee Jae-yong has constantly backed the activities of the compliance committee since the committee first launched. Last May, when apologizing to the nation, Lee said, “Compliance is a value that can never be compromised, and I will work to have compliance firmly rooted as the culture at Samsung.” He also said, “Even after the trial, the Samsung compliance committee will continue to operate from an independent position, and I will make sure there is no suspension to their activities.” On January 11, a week before his sentencing hearing, Lee personally met with the members of the compliance committee and promised, “I will guarantee the independence and continued operation of the compliance committee.”

But earlier on January 18, the court sentenced Lee to two years and six months of imprisonment after excluding the activities of the compliance committee when determining Lee’s sentence, claiming that the committee lacked effectiveness. Since then, people from inside and outside Samsung Electronics voiced views that the ruling would discourage the activities of the compliance committee.

The Samsung vice chairman appears to have considered the most effective way to secure the future activities of the compliance committee. From Lee’s perspective, he may have been arrested, but the activities of the compliance committee could still influence the upcoming trial on the accounting fraud at Samsung Biologics as well as the status of Samsung Electronics directors, who could either have their sentences maintained, be released on parole, or receive a pardon. The result of his careful consideration was a message from prison supporting the compliance committee on the day of its meeting. This was Lee’s way of showing his determination to those inside Samsung Electronics, the members of the compliance committee, and the judges who will oversee future trials.

In the regular meeting this day, the compliance committee is expected to review and discuss improvements to seven affiliates including Samsung C&T. Previously, affiliates including Samsung Electronics submitted improvement measures to the compliance committee to overcome limitations of the committee cited by the panel of experts during the trial. Reportedly, the compliance committee will announce the details of the meeting and its position on future committee activities after the meeting.

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