Samsung and Lotte tycoons reinstated from Yoon's first presidential pardon
The Ministry of Justice announced that 1,693 convicts, including Lee and Shin, have been given pardons effective from Liberation Day on Monday.
Yoon with approval rating under 30 percent just three months into office said his first administrative pardon had been focused on aiding business in the face of challenges and opening new opportunities for hard-living people and unionists.
Former President Lee Myung-bak and former South Gyeongsang Province Governor Kim Kyoung-soo floated earlier as candidates were not included.
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee was released on parole in August after serving a year into his sentence of two and a half years for bribery and embezzlement related to former impeached President Park Geun-hye. The parole had restricted him to new employment for five years and required him to gain approval from authorities for overseas trips.
He can finally be elevated to chairmanship after staying as the vice chairman for the last 10 years and since the death of patriarch Lee Kun-hee. But he is not free from judiciary risk as two trials on accounting fraud and M&A irregularities for his hereditary succession are ongoing.
“I will do my best for national economy,” Lee told reporters Friday after attending a trial related to the merger of Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries.
Samsung Group did not release separate statement on the reinstatement. Shares of Samsung Electronics rose 0.67 percent to 60,300 won ($46.3) by midday Friday.
In May, Samsung Group pledged 450 trillion won in investment over the next five year, triggering a rush of billion-dollar investments in three to two digits. Lotte pledged 37 trillion won.
Other business leaders on the special pardon list were Chang Sae-joo, chairman of Dongkuk Steel Mill, and Kang Duk-soo, former chairman of STX Group. Eight labor activists and management officials were granted pardons in addition to 32 that headed small and mid-size enterprises and self businesses.
“We selected major business people that lead national growth engine, aggressively carry out technology investment, and create jobs, and included them in the pardon list given urgency in overcoming economic crisis,” the ministry said.
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