Breaking news from Reuters and the Associated Press on February 15 informed the worldwide media that a Samsung vice chair was arrested for corruption — just as it was revealed that the Galaxy S8 Plus smartphone was closer to a 2017 release date.
A few days after the news broke that Samsung was releasing the Galaxy S8 and that they had a possible deal with Apple to boot, Reuters reported on February 15 that South Korean officials were approved to arrest the vice chair of Samsung.
Samsung’s Jay Y. Lee is being charged with being a part of a South Korean corruption scandal and is currently being held overnight at the Seoul Detention Center.
The charges are not related to smartphones, Apple, or the Galaxy S8 launch. Instead, Jay Y. Lee is being charged as a suspect in an “influence-peddling scandal that led parliament to impeach President Park Geun-hye in December.”
The incident was significant because it is South Korea’s first impeachment. The impeachment of President Park Geun-hye is still waiting for the Constitutional Court to make a final decision.
The incident with Samsung’s leader will give the South Korean government 10 days to indict, but extensions are often requested to include an additional 10 days.
After the indictment, the courts in South Korea will have to rule within three calendar months. Samsung and Jay Y. Lee report that they are not involved with the crimes associated with President Park Geun-hye getting impeached.
Samsung employs over 250,000 people in South Korea and have reassured the public that they will continue operations as usual while Jay Y. Lee is embroiled in the legal scandal. Samsung had time to prepare for this type of incident because the courts denied a month earlier to have Jay Y. Lee arrested.
About the charges being brought against Samsung’s Jay Y. Lee, it has been claimed that in addition to giving bribes of up to $36 million to President Park Geun-hye, Lee is also being investigated for embezzlement of Samsung assets.
Regardless, Samsung’s vice chair might not go to jail even if he is convicted. Samsung’s Jay Y. Lee inherited his part of the business from his father in 2014, and the elder Lee was convicted of “embezzlement, tax evasion and breach of trust but was never imprisoned.”
In exchange for hosting South Korea’s 2018 Winter Olympics, the former Samsung leader was pardoned for his 2008 convictions by the president.
NY Times reported at the end of 2009 that the reason South Korea courts give light sentences to corrupt corporate leaders like the ones at Samsung is attributed to the assumption that “incarcerating them would disrupt the economy.”
Outside of Samsung, Reuters reported in August 2016 that pardoning convicted corporate leaders is an annual tradition for the president of South Korea.
For example, President Park Geun-hye granted a pardon to the chairman of the large CJ Group corporation — along with 4,876 others — to celebrate the Liberation Day holiday. About the practice, South Korea’s Justice Ministry stated the following.
“In the case of businessmen, we selected a limited number of people… after gathering diverse opinions to unite our people and overcome an economic crisis.”
In other words, do not expect the arrest or possible conviction of the Samsung leader Jay Y. Lee to interfere with any upcoming Galaxy S8 Plus release dates.
[Featured Image by Drew Angerer/Getty Images]